Orecchiette with petit pois, green beans, Roquefort and walnuts
An oldie but a goodie, this is the kind of pasta recipe I love and usually dress simply with olive oil, heaps of parmesan and garlic, lemon zest and shredded basil. Make a similar recipe with a whole smallish head of broccoli, the florets broken up, cooked soft and mashed into the pasta. Pretty much any greens really, asparagus, spinach, cavalo nero, also cubed and roasted courgettes – all love this sharp sauce and the crunch of walnuts.
What’s new in this recipe is the Roquefort and walnuts, made when I had some of the dressing left over from the red chicory salad in the Soups and Salads section. It takes very little in the way of actual “cooking” being largely an assembly job, though you do have to blanch the petit pois and green beans. The little ‘ears” are appealing and the whole thing ends up looking - and tasting - like you’ve worked harder than you have, the Roquefort and walnuts make sure of that. Plus I like a meal that can be brought to the table in 12 minutes, give or take. Happy day!
As with all pasta recipes, it’s really important to have a capacious pan, in this case one that can hold about 4.5 litres of water. Nothing worse than pasta sticking to itself in a pan too small for it.
You can easily use the same saucepan to cook peas, beans and pasta - you just have to be a little organised about it.
1 large saucepan
500g orechiette pasta
250g frozen petit pois, smallest, sweetest you can find
250g fine green beans, topped and tailed
2 tbs olive oil
For the pasta sauce
100g Roquefort, or any other sharp, salty blue cheese of your taste
¼ small red onion, chopped small
2 tbs boiling water
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sweet, white wine vinegar
15g flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ tbs walnut oil, optional or olive oil
3 walnuts, chopped into slivers
¼ tsp black pepper
Add a spoonful of olive oil to the salted water and bring to the boil.
Dunk the frozen petit pois in there for 3 minutes and fish out with a sieve. Refresh under cold water and set aside.
Add the green beans and do the same.
Make sure the water is back on the boil before pouring in the pasta.
Stir to separate and leave to cook for 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the crumbled Roquefort in a bowl and soften with the boiling water, stirring till it is all dissolved.
Mix with the Dijon mustard, the sweet vinegar, the chopped parsley and the 1/2 tablespoon of oil.
Right at the last minute, return the petit - pois and green beans to the pan with the pasta, so they heat through again.
Then drain retaining a spoonful of the cooking water and return all to the pan.
Pour the pasta sauce over, as well as the chopped walnuts and the black pepper.
Stir well, the spoonful of hot water helping to emulsify the sauce, so it coats every single little ear and serve at once.