February 28, 2012

Creamy Orecchiette with Bacon and Peas

This dish was inspired by the traditional Italian pasta dish Farfalle with Prosciutto and Peas, which has always been one of my favorites. I was consciously trying to use up items in the fridge, freezer and pantry, and was pleasantly surprised by the results. I love recipes that are adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand, but that still retain elements of the original that made it great in the first place. This dish is a perfect marriage of salty crisp bacon, chewy pasta, and delightful green peas that pop when you bite into them, all held together in a creamy sauce.

Creamy Orecchiette with Bacon and Peas
Serves 3

6 slices center cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 lb orecchiette
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 oz mascarpone
4 oz heavy cream
handful flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp; transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

3. Return the skillet with bacon grease to medium heat. Cook the onions until soft and starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Stir in the peas; heat for 1 minute and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the mascarpone and heavy cream and heat until the mascarpone melts. Add the pasta. (I felt like the sauce was a little thick at this point, so I added a little of the pasta water.)

4. Remove from the heat and stir in the bacon and parsley. Taste for seasoning and serve.

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