Suzi's Blog

Orecchiette with Ricotta, Peas and Lemon Zest from Pasta by the CIA

editted-0757Spring brings new and wonderful opportunities for pasta. From Pasta: Classic and Contemporary Pasta, Risotto, Crespelle and Polenta Recipes by The Culinary Institute of America, here’s a beautiful and marvelously satisfying elegant pasta dish. It’s filled with lots of spring peas. [Yes, you can use frozen but that spring flavor cannot be surpassed.]

This recipe is simple to create and uses a small array of Italian ingredients. For the best possible results here, look for a local Italian market. Search for fresh cheese, perhaps home-made orecchiette. And the next time you have chicken for dinner, save those bones and make your own stock for use in recipes like this. You’ll taste the difference. You might even marvel!

The cookbook Pasta is filled recipes to elevate your home cooking. The beautiful photographs are both educational and inspiring.


Orecchiette with Ricotta, Peas, and Lemon Zest

Yield: serves 4 to 6


  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed for serving
  • 2 spring onions, white and green portions thinly sliced [about ½ cup]
  • ½ cup chopped flat- leaf parsley
  • 2 pounds fresh garden peas, shelled
  • ¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth, or more as needed
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • 1 pound dried orecchiette
  • 1 ½ cups fresh ricotta
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Zest of ½ lemon, cut into very fine strips
  • Freshly ground black pepper as needed


Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the green onions and cook, stirring frequently until tender=, about 2 minutes. Add half the parsley and cook for 2 minutes more.  Add the shelled peas and the broth and bring to a simmer, stirring well. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and continue to cook, covered, until the peas are tender but not mushy, 4 to 5 minutes [the time may vary depending upon the size of your peas]. Take the pan off the heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orecchiette and stir to submerge and separate the pieces. Cook, uncovered, until just tender [al dente], 8 to 10 minutes [check the cooking time for your pasta].

Drain the orecchiette in a colander. Shake well to remove any water clinging to the pasta. Pour the drained pasta into the pas and return the pan to low heat. Gently stir the orecchiette into the peas until well combined. If there is a lot liquid, continued cooking for a few minutes to cook it off.

Removed the pan from the heat, add half of the ricotta to the orecchiette and fold together. Fold in the remaining parsley, the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Serve the orecchiette at once in a warmed serving bowl or in past a plates topped with spoonfuls of the remaining ricotta and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil.


Source:  Pasta: Classic and Contemporary Pasta, Risotto, Crespelle and Polenta Recipes by The Culinary Institute of America


Thanksgiving Peas, Please [Cracked Pepper and Butter Peas with Parmesan from Diane Morgan]


“They want a green vegetable,” Suzen said to me.

“God, not green beans. Please, I can’t do it.”

We were discussing our hosts’ requests for what to bring on Thanksgiving. This year we’ve opted to share the holiday with lovely friends. There will be wine, noise, shared cooking, and wine. Good wine.

“I’m researching,” I said.

“Go right ahead,” Suzen gave me my freedom.

Look, I like green beans. But if I see one more roasted green bean with slivered almonds, I am going to pick it up and stab someone in the eye.

Green? What do I really like that is green — aside from tomatillos? Well, mint but you can’t eat mint all by itself. Ah, but mint and peas? No, that would be springtime. Still, peas.

One of my all-time favorite cookbooks is The New Thanksgiving Table from Diane Morgan. I’ve actually scanned several of her recipes into my “database” to have with me anywhere my laptop and I travel. And here, here is where I found Cracked Pepper and Butter Peas with Parmesan.

We are taking this to our friends on Thursday, and you, too, may be very interested in this recipe. Why? That’s easy. This recipe is easy.

Have you ever made a Thanksgiving dinner where, by the time you sat down, you were too exhausted to eat it? Oh, last year? Me, too.

For holidays, you can go so far out on so many recipes at once, that by mealtime you are toasted. Look, some things need attention. The turkey, the stuffing, and god knows that gravy. But you don’t have to kill yourself over each and every dish. You need some simple yet wonderful things. This recipe is one of them. Now, to be sure, this calls for preparation just before you eat, but it is so simple that won’t be a chore.

Oh, this recipe with its Parmesan on top is sort of a halfway journey to Italy. So, you can extend the recipe if you want. No, not pearl onions. Please, think out of the box. How about some really good roasted mushrooms, some diced up marinated artichoke hearts or even some white anchovy? This basic recipe is wonderful and you’re free to do whatever else you want. Just be sure to take care of yourself, too, and take the time to enjoy the meal.

And lastly, yes, this recipe calls for frozen peas. Normally, I squawk about using frozen food but peas are special. Unlike most vegetables, you can freeze them without losing that wonderful distinctive flavor.

Cracked Pepper and Butter Peas with Parmesan

Yield: serves 8 to 10


  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 cups frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Coarsely ground black peppercorns
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano.


In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock and 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and cook for 1 to 2 minutes just until the peas turn bright green. Remove from the heat, drain all the liquid, and transfer to a warm serving bowl. Toss the peas with the butter, season with salt and a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper. Scatter the Parmesan over the top and serve immediately.

Source: The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan