Pea, Pancetta and Mint Pasta

with cherry tomatoes

This is an incredibly simple dish, focusing on the flavours of pea, mint and pancetta. Shredded ham hock also works well if you have leftovers to use up. This dish is great for when you don’t have much time, and need to whip something up quickly. The quality of the stock is important because this can dominate the flavour of the dish, and a clean and simple homemade vegetable stock works well with the simplicity of the peas. If you have any leftover, it’s also delicious cold the next day as part of a summer salad.

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 250ml good quality vegetable stock
  • 270g fresh garden peas, shelled weight
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 250g pasta (I used orecchiette)
  • 150g cubed pancetta
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 140g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • handful of fresh mint, torn
  • grated Parmesan, to serve
  • cracked black pepper

METHOD

Place the stock in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Add 200g of the peas and cook for four minutes. Pour this into a blender and blitz, along with the crème fraîche and a couple of mint leaves, until smooth. Set to one side. If you want a slightly looser pea blend, you can add another 50ml of stock or water – it depends how concentrated you would like the sauce.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, and cook your pasta until it’s nearly done but not quite, and still al dente. I cooked my orecchiette for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, fry the pancetta in a non-stick frying pan until crispy. Add the garlic and sliced cherry tomatoes for the last couple of minutes. Drain any excess fat released by the frying away.

When your pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the saucepan, along with the pea puree and the remaining whole peas. Stir over a low heat to finish cooking for a couple of minutes, no more. Add the fresh mint and season with cracked black pepper. Grate Parmesan over the top (be generous!), and serve immediately.