Christmas 2013: Orzotto With Pancetta and Peas

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I don’t care what she did. I don’t care what she snorted. I love Nigella Lawson.

She could have drowned puppies. She could make weekly visits to daycare centers to kick babies.

I don’t care. She is wonderful. The only thing she has done wrong, as far as I’m concerned, is marry Charles Saatchi.

No Christmas meal in an Italian home should be without a pasta dish, but I was looking for something out of the alfredo/marinara realm. Enter Nigella and her orzo recipe, which may be the most copied recipe from her 2012 cookbook Nigellissima. I happened to find it at Williams-Sonoma.

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You will notice that this is the second dish of the holiday to incorporate bacon. This ended up being an important facet of the dish, not only providing the grease to cook everything, but coloring the pasta. The browned bacon grease gave the orzo its hue, permeating the grains and lending a rich, salty flavor throughout.

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Orzotto With Pancetta and Peas
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigellissima

  • dash of olive oil
  • 16 oz. cubed pancetta
  • 2 cups frozen petits pois (green peas)
  • 16 oz. orzo pasta
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tbsp. soft butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Warm the oil in a Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until it becomes brown and crispy. Add the peas and stir until the soften and lose the frozen look.

Stir in the pasta, then ladle in the boiling water. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Vigorously stir in the butter and cheese and adjust the flavor with salt and pepper.

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  • Melissa says:

    Love Nigellisima. I got my copy autographed when she and Mario Batali made an appearance at the Union Square Barnes & Noble last year. The lamb ragu is amazing.

    Nigella’s clementine cake, from an earlier cookbook, was a smash hit this Christmas. That and her chocolate olive oil cake in Nigellisima are both gluten free.

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