21 June 2011

Orecchiette and Peas ...

Pasta and I have an easy relationship ... we're always there for each other. We bond over all sorts of occasions. Don't feel like cooking? No problem. Just boil some water and make a plate of linguine fini and herbs. Need an easy salad for a picnic ... use that light tangy rotini and crispy veg in vinaigrette salad! Feeling blue? Tortellini with four gooey cheeses wil drag you out of that funk! Feeling sniffles and chills?  Need a warm soup fix? Make that chicken noodle soup! I always say that I am the 'queen of pasta' ... just put it on my gravestone, folks!

So, here's one more of my easy favorite pasta plates. Normally, I wait until the new peas come into the kitchen, but last night I found the veg drawer bare and I didn't want to have cut greens from the garden. They need a day or two to recoup from the last cuttings. So ... the frozen peas came out of the bag and some sweet little orecchiette and slivered onion and garlic got stirred into an herby tomato sauce. Yum! This recipe comes from an old favorite Italian cookbook by Marguerite DiMino Buonopane - The North End Italian Cookbook. Of course, I have played with the original recipe a bit to make it suit my taste ... but just a bit!

Orecchiette are soft little round pasta that have nice little bowls for holding sauce or little chunks of tomato or peas  ... 'little ears' in Italian. So adorable ... The tomato sauce that covers the pasta is a fast bubble of fire-roasted tomatoes, a bit of tomato paste, and fresh slivers of basil and mint. A squeeze of lemon juice is added at the last minute. What a nice slippery smooth side dish ... perfect beside our broiled cod in garlic and red pepper slather and cold Pinot Grigio.  An easy supper before the baseball game ... from the neighborhood of Boston's North End to Fenway Park, and we didn't even leave the house!

Orecchiette and Peas - printer friendly

Orecchiette and Peas


¼ c. olive oil
1 medium onion, slivered
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. tomato paste (rounded teaspoons, please!)
1 – 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. each: slivered fresh mint, basil, and flat-leaf parsley - more if you love herbiness
a generous pinch red pepper flakes
1 c. fresh or frozen peas – be generous, heap that cup up!
kosher salt and black pepper
½ lb. orecchiette pasta, al dente
½ c. hot pasta water
¼ lemon – for squeezing the juice into the sauce at the last minute
grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Making the Dish:

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and begin cooking the pasta.

2. Heat a deep fry pan and add the olive oil, onions, and garlic. Sauté until the onions and garlic are soft and glistening.

3. Add the tomato paste and ½ c. pasta water, stirring to smooth out the tomato paste.

4. Add the canned tomatoes and stir until they begin to bubble. Reduce the heat and add the herbs and red pepper flakes.

5. When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the tomato sauce with the peas.

6.  Cover and cook just until the peas are tender-crisp. Add salt and black pepper to taste, squeeze in the lemon juice and stir it in. Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side for sprinkling.


  1. Mmmmmmm! Your excellent description of your relationship with pasta is so right on the money! I think pasta is neglected sometimes but it's such a brilliant quick meal. I love frozen peas in anything. They seem to lift a dish into summer. I'm definitely going to try this at home. X

  2. I can so relate to having a relationship with pasta! LOL!!! Your dish looks delicious and I notice you used the Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes, aren't the the best!

  3. Your passion for pasta really comes across in your writing, brilliant.
    I like orrechiette too, my favourite dish for using it is Nigel Slater's spicy sausage pasta. Delicious!

  4. If you were to see my cupboard filled with different pasta; they have been there for me os many times when I was stuck with...What to I make for supper?
    I just bought orrechiette at my Italian Bakery; it was too cute to resist. Saving this recipe; thanks.

  5. Being Italian I am always up for a new pasta dish. Couldn't you die laughing at the suggested portion size recommended for pasta. This looks delicious and quick and we always have a box of orrechiette waiting for us on the shelf.

  6. This is just one of those must haves!!!


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