You guys, this pregnancy is kicking my butt! I’m having a hard time managing to get dinner on the table. So, what’s a preggo to do? A preggo makes this. It’s easy, fast, delicious with a simple clean up. It’s now on regular rotation at our house. Let’s discuss: Nigella (one of my most favorite people to grace this Earth) takes orzo and treats it as risotto. Then she adds peas, parmesan, and pancetta – bacon in my case. It really is fast and easy. And it’s husband friendly with the meat. I’m sure you could substitute a sausage of your choosing if you liked as well. If I wanted to make this more Hawaiian I’d add Portuguese sausage in lieu of the bacon.
Nigella and I differ in one procedure only. She fries up her pancetta and leaves it in the pan and adds all the rest of the ingredients, including the boiling water, on top. But, that makes for floppy bacon – and I can’t abide by flaccid bacon. So, I cook the slices whole, remove, and chop up. Then add back to the pan at the end. If you’re like some family members, Scott, and prefer flaccid bacon or pancetta, then by all means, add the water on top. Possibly pancetta doesn’t get as floppy. We don’t have pancetta here (even at Whole Foods!), so I don’t know. I also fry up the bacon well ahead of time. You could fry, chop, and refrigerate a couple days ahead of time if you wanted to. I do this often for holiday recipes involving bacon.
So, if you’re looking for a simple meal, one that eases your weekday burden yet still treats you well, this meal is for you. Also, if you’re Nigella, and for some reason you’re actually reading this – you’re the best and you’re well loved in this household.
Orzotto with Peas and Pancetta (or Bacon)
Adapted very lovingly from Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson
2 Tbs. garlic-flavored oil (I use regular)
6 oz. cubed pancetta (I use 5-6 slices of bacon)
1 1/4 cups frozen petits pois
8 oz. orzo pasta
2 1/2 cups boiling water
Salt, to taste
1 Tbs. soft butter
2 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Boil 2.5 cups water in the microwave – or I do it in a little pan on the stove. Or if you’re feeling particularly British or ladylike, use a tea kettle!
Warm the oil in a heavy pan that will hold everything later. (Get that folks? One pan gets dirty!) A Dutch oven or saucepan of 10 inches diameter should be big enough – I use my big saucepan. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until crisp or if you’re using bacon, fry until crisp. I remove the bacon after it’s all crisped and then chop on the side. Add the peas and orzo.
Pour in the boiling water. Add salt (cautiously, the pancetta/bacon is salty, as is the Parmigiano-Reggiano later); then turn down the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, though check on it a couple of times and give a stir or two, to stop it from sticking and to see if you need to add a little more water.
When it’s ready, the pasta should be soft and starchy and the water absorbed. Add the chopped bacon back in. Beat the butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano into the pan, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. (I’ve found it doesn’t need salt and I only pepper my husbands plate of food.)
Serve immediately in warm bowls. According to Nigella, this serves 2 hungry grown-ups or 4 small children. I’ve found that it feeds two hungry adults and provides a little extra for tomorrow’s lunch. However, if my toddler were to eat this with us (can’t figure out why he won’t) there wouldn’t be extra and might not be enough he was really hungry. So, for more than two people be safe and double it. I like to serve some sautéed greens with this meal. If I can be bothered.