Ciao'd while watching the NFL Draft
Orrechiette, or "little ears," pasta is ideal for cradling the small pieces of pancetta along with the peas. Well-loved by the Pugliese (including me), the pasta delivers a delightful chew that plays nicely with the soft peas and crunchy pancetta. Asparagus delivers a nice herbal flavor that balances the sweet peas and salty pancetta. In short, this dish is a win-win.
ORECCHIETTE WITH PANCETTA, PEAS AND ASPARAGUS
1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 pound finely diced pancetta
3 to 4 asparagus stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid.
In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil with the butter. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until barely tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the peas.
Add the pasta along with the reserved cooking water and the cheese. Season with the pepper and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens a bit. Stir in the parsley and serve immediately, accompanied with more Parmesan cheese.