Fresh, seasonal cheesy orecchiette pasta with peas and asparagus is the perfect, simple springtime meal. Fast, easy, and vegetarian too!
This cheesy orecchiette pasta is the perfect reminder that the best food is sometimes the simplest. Fresh, in-season ingredients, a silky sauce made up of cheese from the fancy section, olive oil, and pasta water, and the most addicting little ear-shaped pasta that holds the cheesy peas perfectly. Taylor and I gobbled this up. It’s four servings for real, and we downed them all. Plus it’s vegetarian? Who’da thunk it.
Tips for cooking pasta like an Italian when you’re not Italian:
- Use that pasta water! The starchiness and saltiness of the pasta water is perfect for adding flavor and thickness to any pasta, creating the perfect Italian sauce without any sauce!
- Kind of piggybacking on #1, use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer your pasta to the other ingredients. It brings a little of the pasta water with it, and keeps the pasta water ready on the side. No accidental draining or rinsing!
- Cook your pasta al dente, meaning it will have a little bite, which is usually about a minute less than the box recommends. The pasta can finish cooking for the last minute in the sauce. No soggy pasta for us!
- Use freshly grated cheese, it melts so much better than the bagged shredded cheese, (that stuff is full of chemicals!).
- When adding in your cheese, remove the pan from the heat so you don’t curdle anything. YUCK.
- Fresh, simple, quality ingredients will always taste the best. ‘Good’ olive oil, freshly shredded cheese, and in-season produce are all you need for amazing flavor.
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 bunch, (1 lb.) asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
- 1 lb. orecchiette pasta
- 10 oz. frozen thawed or fresh peas
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano cheese
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Fresh basil, for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
- In another large skillet/pot over medium heat, add the ¼ cup olive oil and let it get hot.
- First, add the garlic to the oil for no more than 30 seconds, then add the asparagus pieces. Stir, cooking for about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the peas, season with salt and pepper,
- At the same time, put the pasta in the boiling salted water, and cook al dente according to directions.
- After the peas haves cooked in the skillet 2-3 minutes, add the scallions and 1.5 cups of the boiling pasta water.
- Let the water in the skillet come to a boil and cook everything for about 4-5 more minutes.
- The pasta should be almost done now, so remove it using a spider or slotted spoon directly into the pan with the veggies. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two more of olive oil, and toss everything together.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the grated cheese, taste, and see if it needs anymore seasoning or pasta water to thin it out.
- Finish the pasta with fresh basil and crushed red pepper flakes to your liking.