Hay & Straw is a creamy weeknight pasta dish with a unique visual flair. one of my favorite recipes in the Country Kitchen Collection’s Pasta Cookbook. The hay and straw in Hay & 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 will lose a lot of its color during cooking, so the dish ends up more like Just Straw. This won’t affect the flavor at all, but for maximum visual effect buy a deeply colored pasta and cook the two pastas in separate pots.
Like most recipes in the Country Kitchen Collection, Hay & Straw emphasizes simplicity and fresh ingredients. Aside from the novelty of multi-colored pasta, the recipe is an easy creamy pasta dish accented with fresh vegetables and cured meats.
The original recipe makes a barrel of pasta that’s more than even my overachieving family can eat. In adapting this recipe for my own kitchen I cut the pasta in half and replaced the ham with pancetta. This demotes the recipe from entrée to side dish, but also reduces the overall carb load. I’ve also thrown in a cup of frozen peas so that I can call it a side dish and a vegetable in one.
Hay & Straw was a hit with my family. I served it with a simple pan-fried salmon filet, with a squeeze of lemon over both the fish and the pasta. A grilled boneless, chicken breast or simply prepared whitefish 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.