100ml extra virgin olive oil (50ml to sauté, 50ml to emulsify the sauce)
½ red onion
3 garlic cloves
1/2 mild red chili
2 sprigs thyme
700 ml chicken or vegetable stock
400g baby peas (podded)
10g fresh basil leaves (1/2 cup)
10g flat leaf parsley leaves (1/2 cup)
1 sprig marjoram
Flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
50g Grana Padano parmesan
Pod the peas (or defrost, if fresh baby peas are out of season) pick and roughly chop the basil, marjoram and flat leaf parsley. Set aside.
Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, de-seed and finely slice the chili. On a low heat, warm a sauté pan, add 50ml olive oil and then gently sauté the onion, garlic, chili and thyme leaves for about 5 minutes; being careful not to brown them. Add the stock, bring to a simmer and reduce on a low heat for about 20 minutes, or until it has reduced by half.
While the stock reduces, put a large pot of salted water on to boil.
Cook the orecchiette for 6 minutes in the boiling, salted water. Strain, then add the pasta to the reduced stock. Add the peas and simmer for about 2 minutes until the past is al dente and the peas are warm, tender and still juicy. Stir through the chopped herbs, taste the pasta and season it with flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. At this stage you may wish to increase the sauce viscosity with a glug of extra virgin olive oil.
Serve into warmed pasta bowls, ensuring that the broth is evenly distributed and garnish with some more cracked black pepper and shavings of parmesan. Crusty ciabatta will be great for mopping up the juices.
This dish is all about abundance of fresh herbs and the time it takes to reduce the stock, creating a rich and flavoursome sauce. Orecchiette ‘little ears’ is a durum wheat pasta from the south of Italy; it’s made without eggs and so will suit vegans who can also make this dish with veggie stock. Change out the herbs to suit the season, availability or your favour preference.
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins