Summer is a time for outdoor enjoyment, fun in the sun and celebrating the season's bounty. A family trip to pick sweet strawberries at Verrill Farm might overlap with a trip to Walden Pond Reservation, so that by the time you get home, dinner needs to be quick and easy, satisfying and nutritious. This is a recipe that is great to keep in the catalogue because it allows you to get supper on the table in the time that it takes the pasta water to boil, even faster if you've thought ahead, so you can spend more time having fun.

Peas in their pods on a wooden table.
Littlest hands make the best helpers!
Leah Mawson

One of the many benefits of living in the greater Boston area is the abundance of farmers markets. They are one of the easiest ways to get access to the most flavorful ingredients at the peak of the season. There's always farm fresh produce and locally made foodstuffs a short distance away — any day of the week. This quick and easy pasta dish is made even quicker and easier when prepared with local ingredients, including fresh pasta! I don't have the time to make fresh pasta myself, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy eating it — and fresh pasta cooks in as little as two minutes.

Hand made fresh pastas from Valicenti Pasta Farm.
Valicenti Pasta Farm offers a variety of hand made fresh pastas at farmers markets in Metro Boston.
Leah Mawson

Simple and satisfying, this summer dish celebrates the season with a light, delicious flavor. The smokiness of the local bacon compliments the sweet, delicate flavor of the fresh peas perfectly, and make no mistake — the English pea is the star of the show. Fresh peas are one of the most delightful flavors of summer. The sweet pea with a plump, slightly crunchy texture does not resemble the often bland and starchy frozen supermarket variety at all. Peas should be shelled just before cooking, but be forewarned, you may want to purchase more than you need because fresh English peas are also delicious raw, and you may find that they end up in your mouth before they make it into the pan.

Here are a few links to help with your summer farm and food adventures:

Verrill Farm - (A family farm since 1922, located in historic Concord, MA), 11 Wheeler Rd., Concord, MA, 978-369-4494,

Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets -

Valicenti Pasta Farm (handmade fresh pasta) - 11 Monument Sq., Hollis, NH, 603-459-3627,

And at farmers' markets and grocery stores throughout New England.


  • 6 slices smoked bacon, cut in quarters
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 12 ounces fresh pasta (1 package)
  • 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 leek, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (white and tender green parts)
  • 1 cup shelled English peas (1 lb English pea pods)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ricotta (heaping tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


The recipe adapts very well to a variety of ingredient modifications based on what is available to you. Any type of pasta will be delicious. Pancetta works equally as well as bacon. Mint can be substituted for basil. Spring onions are a wonderful replacement for the leek, as is a Vidalia onion. The dish can be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon and substituting a vegetable stock — one that is preferably made using the English pea pods. Speaking of, there is not however any substitution for fresh peas from the pod. Serve with a bright green salad.

Peas in a bowl.
There's no substitute for fresh, local English peas at the height of summer.
Leah Mawson


  1. Set the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the bacon on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake until crispy, 15-20 minutes. Remove bacon, set aside on a paper towel to drain.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over medium-high heat. Add pasta to the boiling salted water and cook until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite (this will be just a couple of minutes for fresh pasta). Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the olive oil.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until slightly softened, 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add the stock to the leeks and simmer over medium heat 2-3 minutes. Add half of the reserved cooking liquid, return to a simmer. Add the peas, simmer 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook the peas.
  5. Remove from heat. Add the pasta, remaining butter, herbs, lemon zest and juice. if the sauce is too thick, thin with the remaining reserved pasta water, a little bit at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
  6. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and add the bacon and ricotta.Toss to combine. Let stand 2 minutes, stir well and serve immediately.