Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta

I realize I’ve posted recipes like this one before. I love pasta, and I liked that this one was cooked like risotto, without requiring as much supervision as the latter. It’s from Nigella Lawson’s latest cookbook, but I saw it in a promotional newspaper we got in the mail. When I was a child, pretty much the only green I liked was peas, so I still think it’s weird that some people don’t like them; that being said, the Engineer (who doesn’t like peas) said that this dish was very good, even with the green offenders, as bacon makes everything better. So I figured I’d post it, because we can all use tasty and easy recipes. This makes 4 small servings, assuming you don’t have any seconds (personally, I’d say if you want to play it safe, it makes 2-3 servings, or 4 servings if you’ve got a side to go with it).

[Update: It should be said that the Engineer does not dislike all peas. He does like canned peas, particularly Le Sieur’s tender peas. But fresh peas and frozen peas aren’t really his thing.]

2 Tbs. garlic-flavored oil (or add a peeled garlic clove to regular olive oil and cook until golden; discard garlic, use oil)
6 oz. cubed pancetta (or diced, thick-cut bacon)
1 ¼ cups frozen petits pois (petite peas)
8 oz. orzo pasta
2 ½ cups boiling water
salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. soft butter (or margarine)
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan

Warm the oil in a heavy pan that will take everything later; a Dutch oven or saucepan of 10 inches diameter should be plenty big enough. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until it becomes crisp and bronzed, then add the peas and stir for a minute or so until the frozen look leaves them.

Add the pasta and turn it about in the pancetta and peas, then pour in the boiling water. Add salt (cautiously, as the pancetta is salty, as is the parmesan later); then turn down the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, though check on it a couple of times and give a stir or two, to stop it from sticking and to see if you need to add a little more water from the kettle.

When it’s ready, the pasta should be soft and starchy and the water absorbed. Beat the butter and Parmesan into the pan, check the seasoning, and serve immediately into warm waiting bowls.

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