Friday, March 4, 2011

Something from Nothing: Orecchiette w/ Pancetta & Peas

When I have absolutely nothing in the house and no ideas for dinner, I can always turn to pasta, peas and bacon.

It's a comfort thing and you can make this dish so many different ways.

Orecchiette (little ears) is the traditional pasta shape I use for this dish, and for our Italian lesson of the day it is pronounced "AURA-KEE-YETTEH" (say it fast). But it's ok if you say AURA-SHETTI, because we don't live in Italy, but it does hurt my little ears.

I recently saw Rachael Ray make this dish with lemon and thyme. That was certainly a new twist on an old classic, but I was willing to try it.

*(If you don't have fresh thyme in the house or a lemon, then it's fine to skip them. I've made this dish for years without those 2 ingredients, but they did add something nice and fresh to the dish).

Orecchiette w/ Peas & Pancetta: (adapted from Rachael Ray).

Serves 4

8 oz. of orecchiette (1/2 box)
3 slice of pancetta or thick cut smoked bacon, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup of reserved pasta water
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
fresh ricotta cheese for garnish

While your pasta is boiling, make the sauce.

In a wide skillet big enough to hold the pasta, saute the pancetta in olive oil for a few minutes, then add the onion and garlic. Saute on medium low heat for about 7 minutes.

Next add the stock and the peas and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the lemon zest and thyme and cook another 2 minutes or so.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy water (a good trick is to put the measuring cup in the colander in the sink, so when you drain the pasta you don't forget to save some of the water!).

Toss the pasta in with the pancetta, peas and sauce and add the pasta water and the grated cheese. Mix together and spoon into bowls.

Put a dollop of fresh ricotta on top of each bowl and serve immediately.

This was really delicious.


Claudia said...

I have forgotten about that savory concoction. Of course you added the ricotta at the end and won my heart.

tom | tall clover farm said...

I love this recipe back-up plan, though I do splash mine with half and half. (The coffee drinker is never without it.)

Pam said...

Simple and delicious! I love peas, pork, and pasta.

Karen said...

This sounds simply tasty... and simple!

sixty-five said...

Bacon and pancetta aren't always staples for me, but not long ago I bought a bag of Kirkland pre-cooked crumbled bacon from Costco. Wonderful to have on hand in the fridge for dishes like this. I always start by sauteing it in a bit of olive oil to get that bacon-y crunch....

Joanne said...

Pasta is always a go-to around here. Especially pasta stuffed with bacon and topped with ricotta! Yum.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Astoria, Queens for around 10 years post college. Surrounded by great food sources, Greek, Italian, Indian, etc. The extended family who ran the cat infested Italian grocery nearest my apartment was food obsessed, always giving me advice, rhapsodizing over ingredients. I remember one guy going on and on about orecchiette, how it was so cute, the way the 'bean' (chickpea), hid in the pasta. Giggling, in his broken English, so cute the bean hiding in the ear. The very best piece of gorgonzola I ever ate was from that store. This, by the way, is my kind of recipe and great idea the creamy dollop on top.

A Feast for the Eyes said...

You and Rachel Ray? Really?! Pasta is always my "go to" when I'm stuck on what to make, or if I have leftovers. I made a RR recipe last night with peas, too! Would you believe her newest cookbook "Look & Cook" is so good that I actually bought it? Seriously great photos and fast dishes. With my crazy work life, I'm having to make fast meals like these.

The Japanese Redneck said...

That pasta shape is so cute.