Orecchiette Con Cozze Pisellli

Orecchiette with Mussels and Peas

 

This dish is particularly delicious when you have shucked some fresh peas from the garden and gotten some fresh mussels from the market.

Serves 4

  • 500 grams (approximately 1.1 pounds) of shelled peas
  • Iced water
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • About 3 dozen mussels, or more if desired
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of brandy
  • 400 grams (just over 3/4 pounds) orecchiette, or other fresh pasta

Boil half of the peas for a short time in salted water. Drain and cool immediately in a bowl of iced water. Then set aside. Next, sweat the onion in a pan with some oil, and add the remaining peas. Continue cooking on a high heat. Pour on 2 ladles of hot water and cook for 30 minutes. Check the seasoning and then put into a blender to purée.

Add the cleaned and closed mussels to a wide pan with a drop of oil over high heat and cover. Once the mussels have opened, remove from heat and leave to cool. Discard any that have not opened. Retain 16 of the best in their shells for the garnish and shell the others.

For the sauce, heat some oil and the garlic in a pan and quickly sauté the mussels. Pour in the brandy and leave to evaporate. Add the pea purée and mix so that the flavors combine. Next, boil the orecchiette in plenty of salted water. Drain when barely al dente and mix in with the sauce so that they finish cooking.

Dish up and decorate each plate with four of the mussels still in their shells, the previously reserved peas, and a generous grind of black pepper. (I usually omit the black pepper and sprinkle a touch of red chili pepper flakes).