Monday, November 30, 2009

Lemon Orecchiette with Spinach and Peas

Lemon Orecchiette with Spinach and Peas | Taste As You Go
Lemon Orecchiette with Spinach and Peas

After eating plate after plate of Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings, plus slice after slice of pumpkin pie, I'm actually surprised that I settled on a pasta dish with a cream sauce for my first Gourmet, unbound recipe. But, for some reason, no matter how many times I paged through the Gourmet archives on Epicurious with my laptop perched precariously across my legs as I lounged on my boyfriend's couch, I kept coming back to this recipe for Lemon Gnocchi with Spinach and Peas from the December 2007 issue.

Lemon Orecchiette with Spinach and Peas | Taste As You Go
Lemon Orecchiette with Spinach and Peas

Maybe it was the four-fork user rating and photo of the finished dish that drew me in. Maybe it was the promise of a quick and easy preparation. Maybe it was the simple ingredients, most of which were already in my kitchen (which was amazing, since I left the kitchen practically bare before leaving the city for the long holiday weekend). Or, maybe, it was really all of those factors that affected my final decision.

Lemon Orecchiette with Spinach and Peas | Taste As You Go
Lemon Orecchiette with Spinach and Peas

As much as I wanted to stay true to the original recipe for my inaugural contribution to the Gourmet, unbound collaborative project, I couldn't stop myself from making adjustments to it even before I stepped into the kitchen to begin cooking. The most obvious change I made was the use of orecchiette in lieu of gnocchi. After tasting the sauce, I also increased the amount of lemon zest because I didn't feel the lemon flavor was as pronounced as it could have been. Thankfully, the dish turned out deliciously and I have tons leftover to pick on throughout the rest of the week. I can't wait to choose my next recipe!

Lemon Orecchiette with Spinach and Peas 
Serves 4 | Printable Recipe | Adapted from Gourmet, December 2007

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3 cups baby spinach, packed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water and add the orecchiette. Cook according to the package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large 12-inch skillet, add the frozen peas with the heavy cream, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, garlic, and salt. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the peas are tender.
  3. Add the spinach and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, gently tossing until the spinach has wilted. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice.
  4. When the orecchiette has cooked, reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta completely. Add the orecchiette to the sauce and half of the reserved pasta water. Stir in the grated Parmesan and stir until the pasta is coated with the sauce. If the sauce is still too thick, add more of the reserved pasta water until it has reached your preferred consistency.
  5. Serve hot. If desired, garnish with more grated Parmesan and a sprinkling of lemon zest.

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