Buttery Orecchiette with Mushrooms and Peas

By Gail Gordon Oliver

I think I’d love orecchiette even if the name didn’t translate from Italian as “little ears.” This pasta shape has a wonderful texture and, because it’s slightly concave, it serves as a vessel for the accompanying sauce. If you can’t find orecchiette, you can use any bite-sized pasta shape.

Makes 4 servings

1/2 lb (about 250g) orecchiette pasta

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 lb cremini (brown) mushrooms, sliced

2 shallots, minced

1 tsp  kosher salt, plus more if needed

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed

1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth

1 cup  frozen green peas, thawed

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

In a large pot, boil the pasta in salted water until almost al dente, about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat, add the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter until the butter is melted. Add the mushrooms, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms have released and reabsorbed their liquid, about 3 minutes. Stir in the shallots, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Stir in the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the peas.

Before draining the pasta into a colander, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta, along with 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, to the pan, stirring continuously until the ingredients are well incorporated and the pasta is at the al dente stage, adding more cooking water if needed to keep the mixture moist but not watery. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the cheese, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings, as needed.