In a recent game of “rank your favorite pasta shapes” played by the SJ test kitchen team, orecchiette was a clear favorite.
And that should come as no surprise, given that it’s one of the most versatile shapes, cooks fast and holds sauce like a dream—which is important when your sauce is as delicious as the sauce in our Easy Peas-y Pasta. We love an ingredient that serves a dual purpose, which is exactly how this dish comes together. First, peas are sautéed with aromatics and blended to create a nice thick sauce, and then later incorporated whole for bright pops of fresh pea flavor. The crispy bits of pancetta give a nice salty bite, but feel free to omit to make this an equally delicious meatless meal.
Easy Peas-y Pasta
Start to finish: 40 minutes
8 ounces uncooked orecchiette pasta
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 ounces pre-diced pancetta
1 large shallot, sliced (about 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup tap water
1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups shelled fresh or thawed frozen green peas, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced (1 teaspoon)
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 ounces Parmesan, grated (about 1/2 cup), plus more for garnish
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 lemon wedges, seeds removed
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions for al dente. Drain; reserve 3/4 cup cooking water.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add pancetta; cook, stirring often, until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a paper towel lined plate.
- Add shallot to pancetta drippings in skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add tap water, black pepper and 1 cup of the peas. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer mixture to a blender. Process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Transfer pea puree to a small bowl. Wipe skillet clean.
- Place skillet over medium heat and add remaining oil. Add remaining peas; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add cooked pasta and pea puree; stir to evenly coat pasta.
- Gradually add Parmesan alternately with reserved cooking water 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until sauce is creamy and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil. Season with salt to taste.
- Divide pasta and lemon wedges evenly among 4 bowls. Sprinkle evenly with pancetta; garnish with additional Parmesan and black pepper. Serve immediately.