1lb Penne pasta
4-6 oz Cooked blacked eyed peas
2 oz Pancetta (2-3 thick slices)
4-6 oz Cooked drained spinach
1-2 T Butter/extra virgin olive oil
2-3T Coarsely chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
Large sauté pan
Bring 8 quarts of water to boil. Cook 1lb Penne to less than al dente. You are under cooking your pasta from the texture you would like to eat it at, because you are going to finish cooking it with the ingredients in the large sauté pan or whatever pan you have big enough to accommodate the entire pound of pasta. After putting water on stove, and you are using plenty of water, (what might seem like too much), add 2T kosher salt. Bring to boil. Add pasta. Stir. Stir again in 1 minute, and repeat stirring each 1-2 minutes for the 8-12 minutes it will take you to cook the pasta until it retains a “bite.” Do not leave the stove. (You should be multi-tasking with the steps below, but you do not have to. You can cook the pasta and let it sit for only a few minutes. If you cook the pasta first, drizzle some olive oil over it to keep it from sticking. A minimal amount will do the trick.) Drain pasta and reserve about a cup of the water. I place a colander in the sink on top of a pot and catch some of the water, then pull the pot out from under the colander to disregard the remaining water down the drain. Figure out what works best for you when working with boiling water.
Heat a sauté pan big enough to accommodate 1lb pasta. Once the pan is gently warmed, (not scorching), add butter and or olive oil. I use 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil. It is worth the cost of the flavor. If your pancetta is super fatty, you can trim the fat, or reduce the oil/butter, or indulge in the decadence. You will find that pre-packaged grocery store pancetta is thin and will burn quickly. It is best to get deli-sliced pancetta about ¼ inch thick, or use think sliced bacon. If you have to use the thin pancetta, it will only take about 1 minute to burn if your heat is too high. Adjust your heat accordingly, and do not leave the stove. Stir. Get the bits of animal fat off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. (Prosciutto is not suitable, as it will burn and turn grey. I love prosciutto, and this recipe can be used with prosciutto, just add it at the end after everything is cooked. Prosciutto is cured so there is no need to cook it. Pancetta needs to be cooked.)
Add cooked drained black eyed peas. You can buy them frozen, canned or you can soak and cook yourself. Stir to coat the peas with the olive oil, butter, animal fat, add the Italian parsley. Make sure your heat is low enough to warm the ingredients not burn them. Add some butter or olive oil if your pan is too dry. You can also add a little pasta water if you would like 1T at a time, (you will add some pasta water later). Add undercooked pasta and Italian parsley. Toss. Add spinach. Toss. Add shaved Parmigianino to your taste, Toss. I like to use a vegetable peeler and shave off pieces at this stage. I add some at this stage and grate some over top when serving. Cook for about 2-3 minutes to bring all of the ingredients together. I avoid salt, since the ham (pancetta), the cheese and the pasta water all contain the salt. Your choice. I do add cracked black pepper in to my liking, and encourage you to experiment with customizing the recipe to your liking. Add a dollop of truffle butter at this stage or red pepper flakes. Enjoy with a good beverage of your choice, (A nice red or white wine, beer, mineral water.) Abbondonza!