Orecchiette with Spring Peas, Ricotta and Mint


This recipe tastes just like spring and summer. I use fresh peas, but one cup of (thawed) frozen peas may be substituted (no need to boil). The sauce can be made up to one day prior (tightly covered and refrigerated). This recipe serves two people very generously as a main course; easily doubled to serve 4-6 people. Orecchiette –  translates from Italian to little ears – is suggested here, but any small sauce-hugging pasta can be used.

One pound fresh pea pods, shelled (to create about one cup fresh peas)
3 Tablespoons very finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
A few turns of the pepper mill
1 Tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves
8 ounces (about 2 cups) dried Orecchiette or similar small pasta

Shell the pea pods and boil the peas in slightly salted water for five minutes. Drain, and run under cold water to cool. (Reserve a few peas as garnish, if desired.) Let drain. Place cooled peas in a small bowl, and using a fork, mash the peas roughly until they are about half smashed, then stir in the Parmesan, ricotta, salt and pepper. Use the fork to combine. The pea and ricotta sauce should be thick and a little chunky.

Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions. Remove about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce, then drain the cooked pasta. Return hot pasta immediately to the cooking pot and stir-in the pea and ricotta mixture, over a very low heat, until the pasta is well-coated, using a little of the cooking water to thin the sauce, if needed. Sprinkle minced mint over all and give a quick stir.

Serve immediately. Garnish with reserved peas, additional parmesan or additional mint sprigs (or all three!).

Serves 2 generously.