Growing up, I remember parsley as mostly a garnish that restaurants threw onto the side of plates for color. I don't ever recall eating it. We had a container of dried parsley in the spice cabinet, but I don't remember my mom ever cooking with it (its odor, redolent of grass, was nothing like parsley). So, at least from the perspective of my youth, parsley was not a special herb.
Thankfully today people seem to be eating parsley instead of decorating with it. The spiky herb has a wonderful fresh flavor that's welcome in many dishes, including soups, fish, chicken and, my favorite, pasta. I find it pairs particularly well with smoky bacon and bright green peas. I love both the Italian and curly-leaf varieties, but I think curly-leaf has a more pronounced flavor that works well in a dish like this.
Pasta with Peas, Bacon and Parsley
1 lb. dried pasta, such a farfalle
1/2 lb. hickory-smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (lardons)
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dash of nutmeg
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain pasta and set aside.
2. Brown bacon lardons in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When crisp, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Drain bacon grease in excess of 1 tbsp. from sauté pan.
3. Add the shallots to the pan and sauté until lightly browned. Add the peas, season with salt and pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Stir in the cooked pasta and bacon and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and reserved pasta water and stir until well combined. Serve pasta in shallow bowls topped with fresh parsley and grated parmesan cheese.