Monday, October 8, 2012

Pantry Food: Orecchiette with Peas

When I heard the news recently that the restaurant Campanile would be closing its doors in November, I came close to tears.  For years, Campanile has been the embodiment of all that was good about dining in Los Angeles.  Even the building, constructed by Charlie Chaplin in the 1920s, projected an aura of Old Hollywood glamour. (For Jonathan Gold's excellent eulogy, click here.) 

It is nearly impossible to think of Campanile and the adjoining La Brea Bakery without thinking of chef-extraordinaire, Nancy Silverton.  In 2007, Ms. Silverton released her cookbook, A Twist of the Wrist.  The concept was a compilation of recipes that could be whipped up at a moment's notice using only items commonly found in the pantry.  But as a reviewer from the LA Times pointed out, Ms. Silverton's pantry is most likely a very different place from yours or mine.  Hers, it seems, more closely resembles the aisles of Bristol Farms or Gelson's.

Nevertheless, some of the recipes were quite attainable, including the one for Orecchiette with Peas.  Here is a variation:


1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup frozen petite peas
1 cup creme fraiche
6 slices of prosciutto (or use cooked ham or bacon - almost any pork product will do)
Salt and pepper
Basil leaves for garnish

Boil the pasta until al dente.  While the pasta is boiling, heat the oil in a large skillet and add the garlic.  Cook for 30 seconds, then add the peas, cooking for a few seconds more.  Add the creme fraiche and a bit of salt and pepper.  Bring to a light simmer, stirring constantly, until warmed through.  Reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta and add it while still wet to the skillet.  Add the reserved water, toss well, and cook for a minute or two until the sauce melds with the pasta.  Transfer to bowls and garnish with torn pieces of the prosciutto and basil leaves.


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