Broad beans and bacon: the perfect match
Most of the time when you see pasta recipes on restaurant menus or enjoy it at a friend’s place, it’s favourites like spaghetti, tagliatelle and penne that make an appearance. It’s the same at my place, where I’ll knock together a pasta puttanesca using penne, or a simple carbonara made with tagliatelle far more often than I find myself using other pasta shapes. But for any Italian food lover like myself, it’s worth thinking outside the pasta box and turning one’s attention to less commonly used pasta types, which have a lot to offer the taste buds too!
The trick with any pasta recipe is to choose the pasta that works well with the sauce or additional ingredients you’re using. Thick meaty sauces for example, want a broad, flat pasta like tagliatelle, that the sauce can cling to. Creamy or tomato sauces often call for a nice shell or penne shape that hold the sauce like miniature pasta bowls. And when you’re making pasta recipes that don’t involve a sauce as such but that feature ingredients that are small in size like peas and broad beans, it’s nice to use small pasta shapes like bow ties or orecchiette. These compliment the form and size of the other ingredients and make it easier to get a mouthful of everything at one time.
If you like this recipe, I’m sure you’ll love pasta primavera – another winning pasta dish using fresh spring veggies!
Broad beans, bacon and orecchiette pasta recipe
Ingredients – Serves 2
- 200-240g orecchietti pasta
- 250g young broad beans
- 100-150g chopped bacon, lardons or pancetta (for a vegetarian version, replace bacon with crumbled ricotta)
- Parmesan cheese – grated
- Sea and freshly ground pepper
- Olive oil
- Crème fraiche – optional
- Parsley – chopped – optional
- Put a large pot of boiling water on for the pasta. This is quicker if you fill up the pot using pre-boiled kettle water. Salt water generously and set timer for 1 minute before the suggested cooking time.
- At the same time the pasta is boiling away, cook the broad beans. You can either do this in another pot of boiling water or place a metal (not plastic!) colander or sieve in the top of the pasta pot and boil them in the same water. They will take around the same time, with the broad beans cooking in around 7-8 minutes if they are small. Using a colander means you can fish them out when they are done (around a minute before the pasta is cooked to al dente) and slip them out of their grey skins by pushing at one end of the broad bean.
- While all this is happening, fry bacon in a pan in its own fat until tinged a golden brown.
- When the pasta has finished cooking, drain immediately into a colander. After draining thoroughly, pour back into the empty pot. Mix in de-shelled broad beans and if using, a few dollops of crème fraiche, and stir through. Season with pepper, add the bacon and stir through. Season with salt to taste and go easy with it because the bacon is salty and so is parmesan cheese! Serve in pre-heated bowls with shavings of parmesan cheese and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top.