One of my favorite recipes in Pasta Cookbook is “Hay & Straw”, which is the perfect complement to a broiled salmon fillet or simply prepared chicken breast. The Hay and Straw refer to the two different colors of pasta used in the recipe – the spinach fettuccine is hay and the regular fettuccine is straw. In practice the spinach fettuccine loses a lot of its color during cooking – for maximum effect buy a deeply colored pasta and cook the two pastas in separate pots. Done properly, this is a rich, creamy, and colorful dish.
The original recipe makes a barrel of pasta that’s more than even my overachieving family can eat. I’ve found that cutting the pasta in half and replacing the ham with pancetta makes for a satisfying side dish. I will also usually throw in a cup of frozen peas so that I can call it a side dish and a vegetable.
This pairs especially well with a simple pan-fried filet of salmon, with a squeeze of lemon over both the fish and the pasta. A grilled boneless, chicken breast would also work well.
Pasta Cookbook is no longer in print, but can be found occasionally on ebay or at Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3nqXIJW
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1 lb fresh mushrooms, any variety, sliced
- 5 oz pancetta, diced
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 cup half and half or whipping cream
- 1 cup frozen peas (optional)
- 8 oz fettuccine or spaghetti
- 8 oz spinach fettucine or spinach spaghetti
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano, divided
- Cook pastas according to package direction in separate pans. Drain. If you want the timing to line up, I recommend starting to boil water at the same time you start to saute the onion, and adding the pasta at the same time you add the pancetta.
- Saute onion over medium heat in 3 Tbsp of melted butter until softened and translucent.
- Add mushrooms and saute another 5 minutes, until liquid is expressed. Add pancetta and garlic and cook another 3-5 minutes, until pancetta starts to crisp and mushrooms are lightly browned. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add remaining butter and cream and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened. If you're using peas add them along with the butter and cream.
- Combine pastas, cream sauce, and half of the Parmesan and mix well. Serve immediately, topped with remaining Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.