Feels like spring has FINALLY arrived (maybe?). I see small glimpses. A few flowering trees dotted around Brooklyn. The arrival of ramps. Even some Jersey asparagus at the farmers' market this past weekend. Spring greens, it's what I've been waiting for/craving all winter long. Can't wait to get my hands on these guys. Oh yes, I have plans.
This is a pea galore pasta dish that celebrates spring. The base is a simple pea puree (either from fresh or frozen), mixed with a pea stock made from the discarded pea pods (alternatively, substitute vegetable stock, chicken stock, or even a little pasta cooking water); just thought, why waste the pea pod shells when they make a wonderful stock with whatever other vegetable scraps you might have on hand. To round things out, some crispy speck (pancetta or smoked bacon would also work nicely), green garlic, and some spicy arugula went into the pasta.
Pea puree = frozen or fresh peas (blanched) + pea shoots/tendrils (blanched) + water + salt + blended to a smooth, deliciously springy puree.
Fresh spring garlic, so mild and tender...love it.
Of course, you can use store bought pasta for this dish. I just happen to have a 'thing', a 'fixation' let us say, for homemade pasta. Orecchiette is one of my favorite pasta shapes to make. It does't require any special equipment. Neither a KitchenAid mixer nor a pasta machine/roller was used in making this pasta. Just flour(s) and water (and a pinch of salt). All done by hand, the old-fashioned way.
Making the orecchiette takes a little bit of time, but once you find your rhythm the process goes pretty fast. The orecchiette freeze well. Just let them air dry (in a single layer) and then you can package in ziplock bags and store in the freezer.
I decided to experiment today and substituted spelt flour in place of half of the 00 flour; semolina comprised the remainder.
Making orecchiette the old-fashioned way...
Orecchio (ear) + etto (small) = small or little ears...
The orecchiette are thick and slightly chewy, and the 'ears' act as little cups to trap the sauce.