Pasta with peas and various types of ham, is a basic comfort food combination that can have many variations, from fettuccine towers to beautiful bowls of orecchiette. It can include bechamel sauce to make for a super indulgent dish or a bit of white wine to add some zest. The ham factor also fluctuates. I have made this with prosciutto, speck, and pancetta which is what we are using in this recipe today. None disappoint!! If you are unsure of what pancetta is, it's basically the Italian version of bacon, a cut of pork belly that is heavily salted, peppered and cured. It adds a glorious depth of flavor to whatever dish it is added to. And that applies to this fast and fabulous pasta dish that makes for a hearty and filling meal, perfect for a crisp fall night. And fear not, if you can not find pancetta, you can substitute with a thick cut American Bacon.
What Do I Need
3 T Butter (No Salt)
16 Ounces of Pancetta, diced
1 Medium to large Yellow Onion, chopped
¾ Cup of Chicken Stock
1.5 Cup of Frozen Peas
1 T Fresh Parsley
¼ Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese (grated)
1 Pound Orecchiette Pasta
Time Saver: Allow a large pot of salted water to come to a boil while you are prepping the items below.
Dice your pancetta, chop your onion and parsley and set aside. Using a large saute pan, melt your butter over medium heat, when the butter is melted add your pancetta and saute for about 5 – 7 minutes over medium to high heat, stirring often. Next, add your onion and saute for about 7 minutes or until the onion is translucent and golden. Now add your chicken stock and frozen peas, stirring well to mix. Add Salt and Pepper to taste but be careful on the salt as the pancetta is already well salted. Your pasta water should be boiling now, so lower the heat on the peas and pancetta mixture and add your orecchiette to the boiling water, stir as you pour in the pasta to be sure they do not stick together. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, however I usually shave a minute off the cook time to ensure my pasta is firm and al dente, not smushy and sad.
While the pasta is cooking, stir your peas and pancetta over low heat.
When the pasta is finished, reserve a 1/4 cup of the water it was cooked in, you may need a bit for your sauce. Drain your pasta and add to the saute pan slowly, mixing it well with your peas and pancetta sauce, add your cheese and mix, if it is too thick or feels dry, add your reserved cooking water. Top with your chopped fresh parsley. Have a taste and add more salt and pepper as needed and serve!