Is dinner in less than 45 minutes a real possibility? Absolutely. This pasta dinner is super customizable, and you can change it up based on your family's preferences or depending on what you have available in the pantry. I like it because there is a slight burn due to the red pepper flakes, it is sweet because of the green peas and salty because of the prosciutto.
I used prosciutto here, but bacon or pancetta could be substituted or left out altogether. I wouldn't recommend leaving out though, it provides a necessary saltiness. Crisping the prosciutto in the dutch oven intensifies its flavor, renders fat that we use to build the flavorful sauce, and also produces a nice contract texture in the finished pasta dish. This is also a relatively inexpensive dinner, serving 4-5 people for about $12 worth of ingredients. Winner, winner, pasta dinner!
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 14.5 ounce cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch EVOO)
2 shakes red pepper flakes (more if your family loves the heat)
Kosher salt and black pepper
12 ounces pasta (My kids like bowties)
2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh basil, chiffonade
1.5 cups frozen peas
Mise in place
Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil, add plenty of salt. Meanwhile, chop prosciutto and onion, mince garlic, and drain one can of the tomatoes (less liquid means the sauce thickens quicker).
In a dutch oven, heat EVOO and cook prosciutto over medium-high heat, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon. This will take about 10 minutes for the prosciutto to crisp, then move it to a towel-lined plate, leaving the rendered fat in the pot.
Add a few shakes of red pepper flakes and add the onion to saute until the onion is softened about 5 minutes. If the onion looks dry, add a splash of olive oil. If the onion is browning or burning too fast instead of softening, turn the heat down. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute - the smells should be intoxicating at this point.
Add both the drained tomatoes and the can of tomatoes with juice to the dutch oven. Stir to combine and let simmer for 5-7 minutes. I used my potato masher to squash the diced tomatoes since my kids would prefer more of a smooth sauce instead of a chunky one.
Cook pasta and peas
While the sauce cooks, add the pasta to the boiling water and set a timer for five minutes. By the time the sauce is ready, it will be time to add the frozen peas to the boiling pasta. When the pot comes back to boil, turn off the heat and drain. Reserve a cup of the pasta water just in case you need to thin the finished dish.
Combine and finish
Dump the cooked pasta and peas into the sauce and turn off the heat. Stir to combine and then grate parmesan on top of the hot pasta. Add reserved water from cooking the pasta if you want the dish more loose. Add fresh basil and scoop into bowls. Add more freshly grated parmesan on top of each individual dish.