Orecchiette with Spring Peas, Pancetta and Pea Shoots

Microgreens: Those colourful little leafy bits that are used by chefs to garnish your plate in restaurants.

I’m happy to have found a place to buy these tasty leaves to use in my home-cooked meals. Not as garnishes, but as additions to pasta (basil), pizza (arugula) or sandwiches (ruby mustard) or in salads. Never ever in smoothies. Ugh.

These tiny leaves are a few inches long and are the first above ground sprouts of the plant. They are brightly coloured, have a high concentration of nutrients (compared to the fully grown plant) and are intensely flavoured. They have a short shelf life though, so when I find them I have to eat them quickly.

Here’s a delicious way to do that with pea shoots.

Get the pasta.

Orecchiette pasta.

Orecchiette pasta.

Purchase the pea shoots.

Pea shoots.

Pea shoots.

Defrost the peas.

Peas.

Peas.

Find the red chili flakes.

Dried red chili flakes.

Dried red chili flakes.

Grate a buch of cheese (Parmesan instead of Pecorino Romano).

A mound of Parmesan.

A mound of Parmesan.

Grab some pancetta.

Pancetta.

Pancetta.

Get the cooking started. Boil the pasta, then drain it.

While the pasta is cooking, fry then drain the pancetta.

Drain the chopped pancetta.

Drain the chopped pancetta.

Fry the garlic and red chili flakes in some of the oil from the pancetta.

Adding the red pepper and the garlic (in a whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Adding the red pepper and the garlic (in a whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Get the peas in there too.

Adding the peas (another whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Adding the peas (another whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Put the pancetta back into the pan.

Add the pancetta to the pan.

Add the pancetta to the pan.

Add the heavy cream plus salt and pepper.

Pour in the heavy cream (yet another whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Pour in the heavy cream (yet another whatfoodimade action shot™!).

Bring the sauce to a boil and continue to cook until the mixture is thickened.

Bubbling pasta saauce.

Bubbling pasta saauce.

By this time, the pasta is done and ready for the next step.

Cooked and drained pasta.

Cooked and drained pasta.

Add the pasta to the sauce.

Add the pasta to the sauce.

Add the pasta to the sauce.

Put the pea shoots and cheese in there too. Stir to combine.

Pea shoots and Parmesan get into the mix.

Pea shoots and Parmesan get into the mix.

Garnish with cheese and serve.

Orecchiette with Spring Peas, Pancetta and Pea Shoots.

Orecchiette with Spring Peas, Pancetta and Pea Shoots.

Orecchiette with Spring Peas, Pancetta and Pea Shoots.

The recipe is here:
Spring Peas and Shoots with Pancetta and Orecchiette

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 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups pea shoots, loosely packed
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish (I used Parmesan)
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 colored and lightly 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, about 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, half of the cheese and mint and stir again. Serve immediately with additional cheese for garnish.

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