Laid back and playful, while still feeling refined and put together.
I know, the description suits me perfectly. But I'm actually referring to this orecchiette pasta salad with peas and pesto.
Orecchhiette means "little ears" because the pasta shape is like a mini dish (ears are like little satellite dishes, right?). I'd rather think of orecchiette like little dishes, or perhaps bowls, that are meant to hold all of the wonderful flavors right inside every bite. And that is exactly what this pasta shape does.
In this pasta salad, pea & parsley pesto is garnished with toasted pine nuts, freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, and of course once again, our brightly colored friend the pea in its whole form. The combination of textures and flavors is really lovely. The pine nuts lend a crunch. The Parmesan cheese is like salty, savory ribbons laced throughout. And those peas -- those wonderful little peas -- are tiny bursts of earthy goodness. They like to hide inside the orecchiette "bowls".
Eating this is like a delicious and addicting game of flavor hide and seek. This pasta salad brings its A-game.
Like I said, playful, but still pretty darned classy.
Orecchiette with Peas & Pesto: makes 1 lb
1 lb orecchiette pasta, cooking water reserved
about 1 cup prepared pesto
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
salt & pepper to taste
Directions: Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, to al dente. In the last two minutes of cooking, add the peas to defrost them. Drain pasta and peas completely, reserving the cooking water. Quickly rinse with a little cold water to stop the cooking. Cool the pasta and peas in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so.
Add pasta and peas to a large bowl. Toss with the pesto, then the pine nuts. Top with Parmesan. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.