Pasta Shells with Peas, Creme Fraiche and Mint

Serves 4

Tangy crème fraîche — a cultured cream — melts into a silky sauce for this quickly prepared pasta dish. Shells act like pods for the peas, trapping them into perfect little bites.

Salt and pepper, to taste

10 ounces shell pasta

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

Grated rind of 1 lemon

½ cup crème fraîche

1½ cups frozen peas, thawed

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

½ cup torn fresh mint leaves

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the shells for 12 minutes or until they are tender but still have some bite. With a heatproof measuring cup, remove ½ cup pasta water before draining shells in a colander.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt, and cook until translucent. Add the lemon rind, crème fraîche, reserved pasta water, peas, and Parmesan, and stir. Add the pasta and cook until mixture is thickened and shells are coated with the sauce. Stir in torn mint leaves and serve in shallow bowls. Top with additional grated Parmesan and season with salt and pepper, if you like. 

By Claudia Catalano. Originally published in The Boston Globe.