the lightning strike saga and a recipe: pasta with peas, asparagus, and bacon

Here in Florida, we seem to have had our five minutes of spring and now we’re entering full-fledged summer. For us that means weekend trips to our community pool, using the grill regularly, sitting on the front porch watching the kids play until bedtime, and dinners outside on the back patio.

It also means thunderstorms with lightning. You may not know this, but Florida ranks number one for number of lightning strikes per year, and it ranks in the top ten for number of lightning-strike deaths in the country. And, as some of you who follow me on Twitter know, two weeks ago our house was struck by lightning and we had a bit of damage. Nothing serious, but enough to be quite annoying. When it struck the house, the lightning traveled through the electrical wiring. It blew some fuses (not a big deal),  my husband’s desktop computer (a bigger deal), our outdoor lighting, the internet and cable phone, and our refrigerator (the biggest deal).

I’ve done a lot of whining and complaining about not having a fridge, but truthfully, things could be a lot worse. We have a small fridge in our garage that we bought when I was breastfeeding my daughter over six years ago – mostly to hold the gallons of milk that I was producing. Too much information, right? But seriously, I was  producing like a dairy cow. Buying a spare fridge was a lot more practical than keeping my milk in my neighbors’ refrigerators (which we did for a short time).  I’m very thankful for that back-up fridge. It was a lifesaver for me back then, and it’s been a lifesaver for our family these last two weeks.

On the upside of things, my husband may finally get that Mac I’ve been dreaming about for him (me). Also, we’re getting a new refrigerator next week thanks to that extended warranty we purchased on the old one.

The point of all this? We’ve been trying to prepare meals that don’t leave us with a lot of leftovers and don’t require a lot of storage or purchasing of unusual ingredients. When I saw the cover of Bon Appètit this month, I knew that the cover recipe would be a perfect meal for us. After all, we had most everything already – just needed to purchase the asparagus.

I made just a few changes to the recipe, mostly so that I could use up ingredients we already had. I used orecchiette instead of fettucine and bacon instead of pancetta. I also try to lighten things up when possible, so I used half-and-half instead of cream. I probably needed to add a bit more to make it creamier, but it was perfectly delicious the way it was.

As a bonus – and deserving of a pat on the back, if I do say so myself – was the fact that my daughter loved it. Turns out she thought the asparagus pieces were green beans. Score one for mommy!

Yield: Serves 4.

Orecchiette with Peas, Asparagus, & Bacon


12 ounces orecchiette pasta
3 ounces bacon, chopped
1 1/4 pounds asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
2 cups frozen peas (do not thaw)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
1/3 cup heavy cream (I used half-and-half instead)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste


Cook pasta in pot of salted boiling water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon drippings from skillet. Add asparagus to drippings in skillet and sauté 3 minutes. Add peas, white and pale green parts of green onions, and garlic; sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, dark green parts of green onions, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, half of parsley, and half of basil to pasta. Toss, adding more pasta cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle bacon, remaining parsley and basil over. Serve, passing additional Parmesan cheese.

Only slightly tweaked from this recipe in Bon Appètit, May 2010.