Spring Orecchiette Pasta with Burrata
Spring is earth’s love song. A gentle wooing to all of life to sprout, to grow. The seeds we have planted over winter can now begin their journey into existence. Have we planted carefully and with intention? It’s never too late.
Celebrate the coming of Spring with this simple vegetarian pasta –Spring Orecchiette Pasta with mushrooms, fresh peas, sugar peas, wilted greens and dollops of creamy Burrata cheese. Mint ribbons and lemon zest give it brightness while the “sauce”, similar to carbonara, gives it richness without the addition of cream, butter or oil. It’s perfect for weeknight meals, coming together in an easy 30 minutes.
Orecchiette pasta, originating from Southern Italy, is named for its shape, means “little ear”. Small round “ears”, are perfect for cradling the sprightly green peas and delicate sauce. Burrata cheese if unfamiliar, is similar to fresh mozzarella, but with a twist. At the end of the mozzarella making process, milky curds are stuffed into the mozzarella ball, along with a little fresh cream, then the ball is twisted off with a knot. It’s basically fresh mozzarella, but with an unexpected delicious creamy center. It’s packaged in water similar to fresh mozzarella.
The secret to making flavorful pasta is very simple, but nearly always forgotten. You must generously salt the water. These days, I always measure the salt- to- water ratio. It ensures the dish will be flavorful.
For 16 oz of pasta– use 4 Quarts water with 2 Tablespoons salt.
In this recipe, once the pasta is just about done, I quickly throw in the peas and sugar peas along with the pasta, to blanch for about 1 minute. Drain.
Another tip to making flavorful pasta dishes, is investing in a good quality Parmesan or pecorino cheese. Pre-grated Parmesan that are in the packages are usually lacking in flavor.
Yes the good quality cheese will cost more, but you will end up using less of it, because of its pungent concentrated flavor.
For this recipe, I used only a half a cup.
Lemon zest gives a little brightness.
One the pasta is plattered, break up bite-sized pieces of the creamy burrata with your fingers, and scatter over top.
4 Quarts water
2 T kosher salt
2 C fresh peas
2 C sugar peas
1 Cup Asparagus tips (optional)
1 sweet onion- diced
8 oz mushrooms sliced or quartered -cremini, shittaki, buttons or morrels
2 C wilting greens- dandilion, arugula, chard, spinach
1 T olive oil
generous pinch salt
½ C parmesan
1 ball burrata cheese- optional
2 T fresh mint ribbonsInstructions:
Bring a large pot filled with 4 Quarts of water (measure) and 2 Tablespoons salt ( measure) to a boil. Measuring will ensure perfectly flavorful pasta.
In a skillet, heat 1 T oil over medium high heat. Saute onion until tender. Add mushrooms, and turn heat down to medium. Saute until golden and tender. Add a pinch salt and pepper. Add wilting greens and sauté, stirring often until just wilted. Set Aside.
Whisk two eggs in a small bowl. Set aside.
When water comes to a boil, add pasta and stirring until pasta begins to boil. Turn heat down, but maintain the low boil, until pasta is cooked to al dente, about 7 minutes ( see directions on package). Using a 1 cup measuring cup, scoop out 1 cup of the hot pasta water and set aside. Add the fresh peas, sugar peas and asparagus tips to the boiling pasta, turn the heat up to high and boil one minute. Drain pasta and vegetables. Do not rinse. Return to the pot, turn heat off.
With a fork, stir in 3 T of hot pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, gradually, to the eggs, to temper the eggs ( to warm them). Stir well.
Pour egg/water mixture over the pasta and with a big wood spoon, gently stir to coat the pasta. Stir in ⅓ C fresh grated parmesan, cracked pepper and more pasta water as need to loosen the pasta. Place on a platter or bowl and sprinkle with mint, lemon zest and remaining parmesan. Dot with dollops of burrrata.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: serves 4-6