Nigel Slater’s recipe for orecchiette with peas and bacon

Bring a deep pan of water to boil. Salt it generously. Add 200g of orecchiette and cook for 9 minutes or until just tender.

Put a pan of water on to boil. When the water boils, salt it and add 350g of peas (podded weight) and cook for a couple of minutes. Drain the peas, keeping back 100ml of the cooking water. Set a couple of tablespoons of the peas to one side.

Grill 8 thin rashers of bacon or pancetta until crisp, then drain them on kitchen paper. Break or cut the bacon into small pieces – about the size of a postage stamp.

Put the peas, together with their cooking liquor, into a blender and process until smooth, then stir in 3 tbsp of olive oil. Season – you’ll need black pepper. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan. Pour in the pea sauce, add the reserved peas and the bacon, and fold them gently through the pasta.

Divide between 2 shallow bowls. Trickle over a little more olive oil and serve. Enough for 2.

You could get ahead by starting the pea sauce before putting the pasta on to boil. It will keep warm in a small bowl in a pan of hot water. This is a dish for frozen peas but you could use fresh ones in season. Cook them for 4-5 minutes in deep boiling water.

You can make a similar sauce with broad beans. They are more starchy than peas, so be prepared to add a little more liquid during blending. Introduce shelled clams to this if you like. You can use their (strained) cooking liquor to thin the sauce down.

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