Pea Pesto & Pancetta Pasta. Say that three times fast. I used plain old frozen green peas I thawed, in the basil pesto as a way to add more vibrancy & a little extra veg to the pasta. Peas always make me think of spring & with it just a couple of days away, well it only seemed fitting to share another pea recipe. And a packet of peas in the freezer means dinner.
If you’ve got a bag of peas in the freezer & pasta in the pantry, then you’ve got a meal. Peas, dill, lemon & garlic tossed through pasta will give you a speedy dinner solution for little money & not much time. Don’t be a snob when it comes to frozen fruits or veg. Both say “well stocked kitchen”. Both are frozen at their peak of freshness.
Fresh pea pods collected from a tangle of plants growing in the garden is almost whimsical & a complete joy. But frozen peas are wonderful for the time poor & lazy among us. Either will of course work in this recipe. If you do happen to use fresh, shelled peas, then blanch them first or put the raw peas in a little bag in the freezer overnight, then they won’t require any prior cooking.
This pesto is your fairly straight forward, every day pesto with the addition of peas of course. You’ll see in the recipe, I add the olive oil after the ingredients are processed. Learn why here & why you need to apply this technique to any recipe that requires you to process olive oil together with other ingredients.
If you’d prefer to make this recipe vegetarian then simply leave out the pancetta. Initially tested this recipe without it. Both ways are good. Pancetta of course is cured pork belly. Similar to bacon, pancetta is cured but not smoked. Bacon is cured & smoked & can certainly be used instead of pancetta.
Crunchy, peppery crumbs adorn each serving of Pea Pesto & Pancetta Pasta . These are made by toasting breadcrumbs in a pan with some butter & adding some pepper. Now if that seems like something you just can’t be bothered messing with, then take some croutons, pop them into a re-sealable bag & give them a bit of a bash with a rolling pin. Not only a nice way to relieve any pent-up anger but also a way to have instant crunchy breadcrumbs for topping everything from pasta to casseroles. I was without croutons otherwise I’d have probably done that. No hard & fast rules here. This is a springtime, rustic meal so keep it as simple as you’d like. Oh & speaking of simple, we ripped up the floor in our dining room yesterday (to reveal the original hardwood). The kitchen will be following so expect some very straightforward, easy recipes coming your way. Chat to you soon,
- PEPPERY BREADCRUMBS
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup fresh coarse breadcrumbs*
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- PEA PESTO
- 1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed, plus 1/2 cup extra
- 3/4 cup finely grated, parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- pinch salt & pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 lb (450g) orecchiette pasta, (or small shells)
- 8 oz (226g) pancetta, diced, optional
- basil leaves, extra grated parmesan, crusty bread & a salad, to serve
- To make the breadcrumbs: Heat butter in a large frying pan over medium heat until melted. Add breadcrumbs & pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until golden & crisp. Remove crumb mixture from pan into a small dish & wipe pan clean.
- To make the pesto: Put basil, peas, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, salt & pepper into a food processor bowl & process until finely chopped.
- Scrape mixture into a small bowl. Stir in the olive oil a tablespoon at a time until the oil is thoroughly mixed; set aside.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package direction.
- While pasta is cooking, heat the same large frying pan over medium heat. Add pancetta & cook, stirring, 5 to 7 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan to paper towel to drain: discard oil.
- Drain the pasta & return to the same pot. Add the pesto, peas & almost all the pancetta & stir to combine. Arrange the pasta on a warmed serving platter or individual bowls. Top with remaining pancetta & toasted breadcrumbs. Serve with extra basil leaves, parmesan, bread & a salad if desired. Serves 6.