Orechiette (or pig’s ears) is undoubtedly the best pasta on the planet. They look like little space ships, for one. More importantly, they are like little “cups” that manage to hold whatever you’re combining it with. This means you miss none of the flavor of the dish.
Now, a word about Pancetta. It’s basically Italian bacon. What makes it different is that it is minus that smoky flavor, which is just perfect for several dishes, including this one. You can buy it several different ways. You can buy it as a big roll. You can have it sliced at the deli of your local grocery store, which is great when you want to put it on burgers. You can even buy it chopped, which is what I do for this particular dish.
This pasta dish is remarkably simple and comes together pretty quickly.
1 lb Orechiette pasta
1 cup chopped Pancetta
1.5 cups frozen peas, defrosted and heated
6 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Parmesan Reggiano (for serving)
1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes (for serving)
Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the Orechiette and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until al dente. You should check after 12 minutes.
While your pasta is cooking, add the Pancetta to a skillet and cook until just a bit crispy. You don’t need any oil for this. Remove and set aside. While this is going on, defrost and heat your peas in a microwave. Set the peas aside.
Add 6 tbsp oil to the pan you cooked the Pancetta in. Add the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until the oil is infused. Allow the garlic to cook, but do not allow the garlic to burn. Then add the Pancetta and peas to the pan with the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the black pepper and give it a stir.
Drain the Orechiette and return it to the cooking pan. Add the Pancetta, garlic, peas and oil from the pan and toss until mixed. Pour into a serving plate and top with grated Parmesan. Make sure you serve the pasta with additional Parmesan and red pepper flakes on the side.
Now, all you need is a nice glass of red wine…