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A Bowl of Peas

With pasta, pancetta and cream



This bowl of pasta is the essence of spring –– a season which brings a conflicting message of gray skies and sunshine, chill and warmth. Crispy pancetta swathed in cream and cheese provides cozy comfort, while sweet peas and delicate pea tendrils add earthy fragility and the telltale signs of an awakening garden. No worries if you can’t get your hands on pea tendrils, which are the wispy shoots of the snow pea plant. This dish is equally delicious simply with pancetta and peas.

Orecchiette with Spring Peas, Pancetta and Pea Shoots

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound orecchiette

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced

  • 2 cups fresh peas

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 
1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cups pea shoots, loosely packed
  • 
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, divided

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the orecchiette and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Drain.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until light golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
  3. Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet. Add the peas, garlic, and red chili flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the pancetta to the pan and add the cream, stock, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the cream is slightly reduced and thickened, and the peas are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the orecchiette to the skillet and stir to coat. Add the pea shoots, cheese, and 1 tablespoon mint and stir again.
  4. Divide between serving plates and garnish with the remaining mint. Serve immediately with the remaining cheese.

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