Orecchiette with broad beans and lemon ricotta

4/12/2014 09:10:00 PM

Orecchiette with broad beans and lemon ricotta

So, end of daylight savings. I have to say, I haven't minded it too much so far. I loved the extra hour of sleep we got last weekend, and the extra light in the mornings is a total bonus. (Although we all know that's not hanging around for too long - winter, amirite?!) And even though it gets dark quickly in the evenings, at the moment I'm often tricked into thinking it's quite late and then realising, gratefully, that it's only six thirty, and I still have time to watch Judge Judy, knock up dinner, clean the flat and whatever else I feel like doing of an evening.

This pasta dish feels very spring time, but is primarily made with storecupboard and frozen ingredients. The perfect way to bring some sunshine into your kitchen on a gloomy evening. I got the idea of combining broad beans, orecchiette and ricotta from an old Nigel Slater column in The Guardian, but made it with frozen broad beans, added lemon for a zingy freshness, and really just made the method up as I went along, not following his recipe too strictly.

Broad beans. I think they're my favourite vegetable right now. (Or are they a legume?) Whatever, they taste good. I always keep a packet of frozen broad beans in my freezer. I've tried fresh before, but I've found that, similar to peas, they're only nice if you get them freshly picked, and if you prepare them straight away. Otherwise, they get all starchy and mealy. The frozen ones are picked and frozen at the height of freshness, so they're all nice and sweet and bouncy and fresh once you cook them.

I defrost them by pouring boiling water over them, then squeeze them out of their little shells. It's a bit of a pain to do, but the results are so worth it.

Shelling the broad beans

See how fresh and vibrantly green the little beans are?

Broad beans

So for this recipe, I cook orecchiette, adding the broad beans for the last five minutes of cooking. Once drained, I add butter (you could use extra virgin olive oil, but I love the milky richness of butter), salt, pepper, grated parmesan and chopped herbs. (I used chives and oregano, because I had them in the fridge and I love chives, but fresh mint would be nice too).

Adding butter

Incidentally, I've recently found good quality orecchiette at my local supermarket, in the home brand. I've noticed lately that supermarkets are starting to produce and sell upmarket home brand products, like pastas, jams, creams, preserves and whatever, and even increasing their range of non home-brand "gourmet" products, which I appreciate as a customer. (I remember majorly struggling in 2005-2006, during my Sarah Discovers How to Eat days, to try and find all those fancy ingredients Nigella used, like crème fraîche, Maldon salt, muscovado sugar, tinned chestnuts and so on). As much as I love slow specialty shopping in little stores and markets, despite my best intentions I always find that my precious weekend time gets away from me and I only manage to indulge once every month or so.

But back to the pasta! The addition of lemony ricotta really increases the freshness. I just got some ricotta and stirred through chopped herbs and lemon-infused olive oil (another impulse buy at the supermarket when I saw that they started selling Cobram Estate olive oil, which once upon a time was only available at snooty expensive stores). But I think plain extra-virgin olive oil (whichever brand you prefer) and a little lemon zest would work equally well for this purpose.

Lemon ricotta

And that's it! It's easy, it's fresh, it's quick, it uses pretty much all store-cupboard ingredients, and all the ingredients are available at a supermarket (but of course go specialty shopping if it makes you feel better). Enjoy!

Orecchiette with broad beans and lemon ricotta

Orecchiette with Broad Beans and Lemon Ricotta
Adapted (liberally) from Nigel Slater in The Guardian

400 grams frozen broad beans
250 grams orecchiette
1 tablespoon butter
Small sprig fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used chives and oregano)
200 grams ricotta
1 tablespoon lemon-infused olive oil (substitute 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and the zest of half a lemon)
Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Place the broad beans in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water (from a recently boiled kettle) over the beans and leave to a minute to start to defrost. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, squeeze the beans out of their skins. Set the beans aside and discard the skins.
Place a large pot of salted water over a high heat. Once it has come to the boil, add the orecchiette. Once you are five minutes away from the pasta being cooked (check the packet for timing), add the broad beans and cook for a further five minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the lemon ricotta. Stir together the ricotta, lemon-infused olive oil and half the chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Drain the pasta and beans, then tip back into the pot. Add the butter, remaining chopped herbs and a generous grating of parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until it the butter is melted and evenly distributed through the pasta.
Distribute the pasta into serving bowls and spoon the lemon ricotta over to serve.
Serves 2-3

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  1. Che brava che sei stata!!!! Complimenti

  2. This looks so good - love orecchiette as well. Such a cute (and yummy) pasta.

  3. Love orecchiette! This looks so simple and delicious - why haven't I made this already? Will have to start stockpiling broadbeans in the freezer too :)

  4. I did see some sunshine with your Orecchiette with broad beans and lemon ricotta! Very delicious!



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