Spinach Fettuccine with Lemon, Chorizo, Ricotta and Crushed Peas

I recently fell in love with Spanish Chorizo. A few weeks back, I made up this Mussel dish using Chorizo and it was amazing. I wanted to make that yesterday but apparently there were none to be had. I was looking for Prince Edward Island Mussels because they’re pretty much the best. I went to two credible sources for fresh fish on the Upper East Side, first to Agata & Valentina’s followed by Eli Zabar’s Market. Both were sold out it and I got really pissed off. I walked around Eli’s for about twenty minutes looking like an idiot that had no clue what he was doing shopping for food. I called my girlfriend to vent my frustration. (The pictures below are her work, good job Alex) We talked about what else we could make with Chorizo. We decided on a pasta recipe we had made a few months ago that called for hot Italian sausage. We figured Chorizo would work just fine and forget about it…we’re about to make Spanish pasta…kind of!

As a side note, I just wanted to disclose that behind the scene, while sharpening my Knife, I nicked my thumb like a dummy. Since my knives are slammin’ (Wusthof 8″ Chefs Knife) it started to bleed, a lot, so I had to wrap it up real quick. I would have liked to document that for you but I wasn’t able to get a picture of it, too bad. it brings up an important lesson though, when you sharpen your knives, don’t try to do it like an Iron Chef, just be easy and careful, unlike me. Ignore the bandaid on my thumb in the following pictures.

Serves 4

1 lb fresh or dried spinach fettuccine (I use fresh in this recipe cause I like it, dried work great too)

1 lb Chorizo with casing removed & chopped (I had it on hand, works nice, I’d recommend hot Italian sausage casing removed)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 -3 cups frozen or fresh peas (I used frozen even though fresh peas are in season, I had frozen in the freezer)

1 cup whole milk ricotta (If you’re like me, you’ll want the good stuff. If not, I suppose you can use Poly O if you must)

1 bunch of fresh basil, thinly sliced

½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

½ lemon

Olive oil, on standby

Salt and pepper (use kosher salt and whole peppercorns in a peppermill)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.

While you’re waiting for the water to bowl, get your stuff in place or as my brother and his fancy chef friends would call it Mise en Place, a French phrase that basically translates to, “everything in place.” That would consist of measuring, weighing, cleaning, cutting and dividing all of your ingredients and preheating your oven, if needed. Restaurants do this as a way of preparing everything before the lunch and dinner rush so that they can quickly and easily assemble dishes. So it would only make sense that if you, as a home cook, could implement the same technique, just on a smaller scale…you too could assemble a dish just as easily and just as fast. So make a habit of it, its important if you want to be a better cook.

Smash and chop the garlic.

Score the Chorizo and peel off the casing. Slice each link length wise into strips. Dice the strips into tiny pieces. If you use sausage, you can omit this, just break it up with the back of a spoon when you add it to the pan, Chorizo is denser and harder to break up.

To chiffonade (another fancy word for rolling up and thinly sliced) the basil, stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll it tightly. This is a good chance to practice your knife skills by trying to slice the rolled up basil as thin as possible. Keep those fingertips curled in. If you make sure your fingertips stay curled and in safe distance from the knife, I promise you will never cut yourself. (Trust me, I’ve cut myself like an idiot many times before I made this a habit…haven’t cut myself in 2 ½ years, forget my thumb, I wasn’t chopping anything, sharpening is a whole different animal).

Get everything you just chopped together along with all the other ingredients and you’ve got all your stuff in place. Your ready to bang it up, no problem.

Heat a two-count of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the chorizo and garlic to the hot oil (if your using sausage, use the back of a wooden spoon to break it apart). Cook till browned.

Move chorizo garlic mixture to one side of the pan. Add peas to other side of pan and crush lightly with the back of spoon.

Drop the pasta in the boiling water; if using fresh pasta, cook 1-2 minutes, if using dried pasta, follow box instructions (if the box calls for 10 minutes of cooking, cook the pasta for 7-8 minutes it will finish cooking in the chorizo and pea mixture).

Add the ricotta to the pea and Chorizo mix.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss.

Save a cup of pasta water and add a little bit at a time till the sauce thickens in the pan.

Add a little more ricotta, the chopped basil, Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, lemon juice, salt and pepper (to taste).

Take some tongs and grab a nice portion of the pasta and kind of twist it into a bowl to plate.

Top with a dollop of ricotta, fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil to garnish (I always try to practice my plating skills, remember, I’m a food freak).

If you make this dish, I for sure want to know how it went, what you thought of it and what you might do different…email me at scusato@gmail.com and we’ll talk about it.

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