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Orecchiette with Tomatoes, Peas and Pancetta

4 to 6 Servings

45 minutes

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Slightly brothy yet chunky, pasta e piselli lands somewhere between soup and generously sauced pasta. Home cook and Pompei resident Antonella Scala taught us her recipe, which we adapted, for an ultra-easy one-pot affair. To form the flavor base, we use the rendered fat from pancetta crisped in olive oil to sweat a chopped onion until softened and sweet. Chopped plum tomatoes followed by a couple tablespoons of tomato paste cook down in the pot, supplying depth of flavor and umami. We cook the pasta directly in the mix, not separately, which lends the sauce starchiness and body, then peas, parsley and pecorino are stirred in at the finish. Scala used a mix of small pasta shapes, but we chose orecchiette and cavatelli, cup-like shapes that capture peas and boast a hearty, almost dumpling-like texture. At the end of cooking, be sure to wait about five minutes before serving. This allows the consistency to thicken slightly.

4 to 6



Don’t bother defrosting the peas. There is enough heat in the pot to thaw the frozen peas, and adding them while cold prevents overcooking so they retain their texture and color. However, if your peas are caked in ice, before use, simply rinse them under running cold water so they break apart.

45 minutes


  • 2

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 4

    ounces pancetta, chopped


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Nadine C.
April 28, 2024
Not that great.
There was not much flavor here, which is surprising because I generally love everything I make from Milk Street. I added garlic and a half jar of marinara to try to improve it, added some red pepper flakes to try and make it better, and I added more salt and pepper. We ate it, but will not make this again.