This pasta dish has been on my mind for some time. And, yeah, it’s been in my stomach more than a few times, too. First, I had to get the recipe just right. Then, I had a heckuva time getting decent photos of the stuff, so I had to keep making it. Over and over and over.
Just last night, I whipped up a batch, and with my rental camera (my poor full-time camera is in the shop hopefully regaining its former glory), I was able to snap at least some semi-decent pics. And so now I can finally share with you. Woo hoo!
This pasta? It’s divine. Creamy, lemony, aaaah. Really super addicting, actually. I highly recommend it.
It came to mind a few weeks ago when I was whipping up a batch of lemon spaghetti for a quick dinner and simultaneously dreaming of this orecchiette pasta with creamy ale sauce from The Beeroness. Those peas! So perfectly cradled inside each bit of orecchiette!
I had to have creamy orecchiette with cradled peas in my life, and I had to have it right away.
And then I had to have it again, and again, and again, until it was perfect, and until I could get at least passable photos to share with you.
I’ll probably have to make it several more times just to make sure I got it exactly right.
Sorry, honey. At least you get a good amount of ham in your half. (Actually, I don’t think my guy is complaining, either. He’s never been huge on lemon, but he does love this stuff.)
This pasta dish goes from stove to table in about 25 minutes, but it tastes like it took far longer. It uses the same creamy, garlicky lemon sauce as the lemon spaghetti recipe, then I added perfect little peas for a touch of green and spring. Our beloved meat-eaters get the smoky addition of ham (perfect for using up the last of those Easter leftovers). I love using orecchiette with this sauce – the creamy goodness collects in all the little dips and curves. Divine.
You know I had to use orechiette as per my aforementioned obsession, but shells or penne would be marvelous, too.
Creamy Lemon Pasta with Peas and Optional Ham
- 1/2 pound or 8 ounces small pasta like orecchiette, shells, or mini penne
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic (finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons))
- Pinch - ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (depending on taste)
- 1 large lemon (zested and juiced (approx. 1 tablespoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice))
- 1 cup pasta water (the water the pasta has been cooking in - not normally mentioned in lists of ingredients but it's an important part of the recipe so I'm mentioning it to be safe!)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Small handful of parsley (chopped (about 1/4 cup chopped))
- If adding ham
- 1/4 cup chopped (cooked ham per serving)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook about one minute less than package directions state until al dente. When one minute is left in the cooking time, add the frozen peas.
- While the pasta is boiling, heat a large deep skillet over low heat and add the olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes until garlic is tender.
- To the garlic, add 1 cup of the water the pasta is boiling in, along with the lemon juice and the heavy cream. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens just a bit, about 5 minutes. Stir in the the lemon zest and 1 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and add additional salt if necessary (if the sauce tastes too lemony, add a little more salt until the tartness mellows.)
- If adding ham, place an additional skillet on the stove and heat the diced ham over low heat, stirring frequently
- Drain the pasta and peas and and add it to the main skillet with the sauce. Remove the skillet from the heat and gently toss the pasta with the sauce until the pasta soaks in some of the sauce, about two minutes.
- Scoop the carnivorous portion(s) into the saucepan with the ham and mix gently.
- Top with the parsley and remaining Parmesan cheese, and serve.