Spring Peas and Shoots with Pancetta and Orecchiette

pea shoots pasta tastefoodSpring Peas and Shoots with Pancetta and Orecchiette

I hope you like peas, because I have a few pea recipes coming your way. The first is this pasta recipe which I like to make when English peas first appear in the market in March. It’s the essence of early spring, a season which brings a mixed message of cool rain and gentle sunshine. Crispy pancetta swathed in cream and cheese provides winter warmth, while sweet peas and delicate pea tendrils add earthy fragility, an early hint of the garden awakening from its winter slumber. 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. And for that matter, if you can’t get your hands on fresh peas, then frozen are just fine, too.

Orecchiette with Spring Peas, Pancetta and Pea Shoots

If you are using defrosted frozen peas, add to the sauce in the end to warm through. Serves 4.

1 pound orecchiette
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, finely diced
2 cups fresh peas (or defrosted frozen 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
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add orecchiette and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta. Sauté until light golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet. Add fresh peas (if using), garlic and red chili flakes. Sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Return pancetta to the pan. Add cream, stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer until cream is slightly reduced and thickened, and peas are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. (If using defrosted frozen peas, add to the cream after it is reduced and thickened and simmer until peas are heated through). Remove from heat and add the orecchiette to the skillet.  Stir to combine. Add the pea shoots, the cheese, and mint and stir again. Serve immediately with additional cheese for garnish.

20 thoughts on “Spring Peas and Shoots with Pancetta and Orecchiette

  1. Again, you are my food sister. I adore peas and with pancetta, please I’m in heaven. Just today I planned a pea and pea shoot with brussels sprouts salad for an upcoming supper club dinner I’m co hosting as guest food blogger chef. We are on same page again. I can’t wait to see more peas recipes please. We would be fierce together.

    1. Yes we would – we’ll have to connect. I love the brussel sprouts, too (of course).


  2. The spring pasta with vibrant green pea shoots is evocative of our early spring that is dancing on the horizon! A lovely recipe!

  3. Adding greens to pasta really has a way of eliminating the guilt that eating pasta comes with in the first place 🙂 good idea!

  4. So jealous of those of you living in the south or the west at this time of year. It seems like it’ll be years until peas, asparagus and spring onions will grace our tables here in the northeast. Heavy sigh…… When they do, I’m coming back here for some great new recipes to try.

  5. Sono stato molto contento di aver trovato questo sito. Voglio dire grazie per il vostro tempo per questa lettura meravigliosa! Io sicuramente mi sto godendo ogni post e ho gi salvato il sito tra i segnalibri per non perdermi nulla!

  6. I made this after finding pea shoots at the farmer’s market and it was SO GOOD. My husband (who normally doesn’t like cream-based pasta and is generally hard to impress) was raving about it all night. Thanks for the idea!

Comments are closed.