This week was an exceptionally challenging time for me. When I’m having a bad day, I find solace in foods that I find comforting. Everyone has their favorite comfort foods. My husband loves meatloaf, fried chicken, and mac and cheese. My concept of comfort foods, having grown up in an Italian family, might seem odd to you. I love poached eggs with parsley; homemade Italian bread – fresh out of the oven and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil; and pasta with potatoes. Although I seldom eat these foods, when the occasion arises, I get these nagging cravings for them. Today I was craving what my family calls pasta with potatoes and peas (pasta cù patate e piseddi). You might think pasta and potatoes is a strange combination but it’s quite delicious.
Pasta with potatoes is a dish my mother refers to as “peasant food” – what she considers unfit to serve dinner guests other than family. I refer to it as Sicilian soul food. It is a basic pasta dish that’s comforting, and it is food that nourishes the soul regardless of the kind of day your having.
PASTA WITH POTATOES AND PEAS
(Pasta cu Patate e Piseddi/Pasta con Patate e Piselli)
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 6 servings.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped and juice reserved
1 pound potatoes (about 3 to 4 medium), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/2 cups water
3 small chicken bouillon cubes
4 fresh basil leaves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup frozen peas
1 pound dry spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. COOK THE POTATO MIXTURE: Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Be careful not to overcook the garlic.
Add the tomatoes and their juice, potatoes, water, bouillon, basil, and parsley. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the peas and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5 to 10 minutes longer, until potatoes are tender.
2. COOK THE PASTA: While the potatoes are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Stir in the broken pasta and cook to al dente. Drain pasta, place into a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir in the potato mixture. Serve in individual bowls while hot.