Orecchiette with Pancetta and Peas

This irrestible quartet of peas, pancetta, Pecorino Romano and pasta is sure to delight all. Present with a dollop of ricotta.


  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/3 pound pancetta or speck (smoked pancetta) or lean, thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon
  • A handful of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 cups cow’s-milk or sheep’s-milk ricotta cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the wine, then add the peas and heat through for 2 minutes; season with the thyme, lemon peel and pepper.

Add the reserved 1 cup pasta cooking water and the drained pasta; toss to combine. Add the Pecorino Romano and toss. Serve in bowls and top with the ricotta, for stirring in as you eat.

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Rachael Ray