Since getting Lidia Bastianich’s “Lidia’s Favorite Recipes,” I’ve been on an Italian food kick. Besides the braciole (Braised Beef Rolls) from a few days ago, I also tried Shells with Young Peas and Mushrooms. It sounds more Italian as Conchiglie con Piselli e Funghi, but is much simplier to say the other way!
Even though the name is complicated, I was drawn to the simplicity of this recipe and the fresh ingredients. It was quick and easy to throw together for a weeknight dinner and we enjoyed it with a side of toasted, buttered garlic bread.
I made a few little additions – some minced garlic and a drizzle of olive oil at the end. Lidia Bastianich is very clear that her recipes are flexible and encourages changing out ingredients as they are in season.
This pasta is a simple, delicious dinner and I’ll definitely make it again.
*** 1/2 Quick and easy for a weeknight dinner. Use the freshest ingredients you can find - it really makes a difference. (For vegetarian, don't use the bacon and instead add another tbsp olive oil and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.)
- 1 1/2 C frozen baby peas or shelled fresh young peas
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 1/2 C spring onions or scallions
- 2 C cleaned and sliced mixed mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster, crimini)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 C chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- 1 tbsp butter
- freshly ground black pepper and salt
- 1 lb small pasta shells (conchiglie)
- 1/2 C freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
If using fresh peas, blanch them in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and rinse until cool. If using frozen peas, defrost and drain them, but do not blanch.
Heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and onions, and saute, stirring until the onions are wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms, minced garlic, and sprinkle the mixture with salt. Continue to cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released and lost their moisture, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the chicken broth, peas, and butter, and season the entire pan to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Salt and pepper again if necessary.
Meanwhile, add the shells to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender-firm - about 10-12 minutes. Save 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Drain the pasta and return it to the empty pot and set over low heat. Pour in the mushroom/pea mixture and stir over low heat until pasta is coated. If the mixture is a little dry, add desired amount of pasta water until it's the consistency you'd like. (I also drizzled about a teaspoon of olive oil over the pasta mixture.)
Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese. Taste and lightly salt and pepper if needed. Toss well and serve. Sprinkle a little cheese over each serving or have available for your guests/family.
Tips and Stuff:
I used medium shells, but only because I couldn't find the small shells (conchiglie).
I used all sliced crimini mushrooms.
If you want this vegetarian, replace the bacon with another tbsp of olive oil and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.
I had it for leftovers for days. On one day for a work lunch I added chopped rotisserie chicken, added a little water for moisture and it made a great microwaved entree!