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Pasta Risotto With Peas & Pancetta

by . Featured in NIGELLISSIMA
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Introduction

Here, I cook pasta much as I would if I were making a traditional risotto. But there is a difference - that you don't have to stir constantly and that the pasta takes only 10 minutes to cook are obvious benefits to the harried midweek cook.

I love the rice-shaped pasta that is orzo - it ozzes its starchiness out into the sauce and - what's more - you need only the one pan. I advise that the pan be heavy-based: a small enamelled cast-iron casserole would be perfect although often as not I use a thick-bottomed saucepan.

Please note that the amount of water specified is a starting point only: you may need to add more if the pasta's absorbed all the water before it's cooked.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Here, I cook pasta much as I would if I were making a traditional risotto. But there is a difference - that you don't have to stir constantly and that the pasta takes only 10 minutes to cook are obvious benefits to the harried midweek cook.

I love the rice-shaped pasta that is orzo - it ozzes its starchiness out into the sauce and - what's more - you need only the one pan. I advise that the pan be heavy-based: a small enamelled cast-iron casserole would be perfect although often as not I use a thick-bottomed saucepan.

Please note that the amount of water specified is a starting point only: you may need to add more if the pasta's absorbed all the water before it's cooked.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Serves: 2 hungry grown-ups or 4 small children

Metric Cups
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
  • 150 grams pancetta cubes
  • 150 grams frozen petits pois
  • 250 grams orzo pasta
  • 625 millilitres boiling water
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon soft unsalted butter
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons grated parmesan
  • black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic flavored oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta cubes
  • 1¼ cups frozen petits pois
  • 1¼ cups orzo pasta
  • 2½ cups boiling water
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon soft unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • black pepper

Method

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy-based pan that will take everything later; a casserole or saucepan of 22cm / 9in diameter should be plenty big enough.
  2. Cook the pancetta, stirring, until it becomes crisp and bronzed, then add the peas and stir for a minute or so until the frozen look leaves them.
  3. Add the pasta and turn it about in the pancetta and peas then pour in the boiling water; I use cup measures - 2½ cups - for ease. Add salt (cautiously, especially if this is for children - the pancetta is salty, as is the Parmesan later); then turn down the heat and leave to 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 from the kettle.
  4. When it's ready, the pasta should be soft and starchy and the water absorbed. Beat the butter and Parmesan into the pan, check the seasoning and serve immediately into warm waiting bowls.
  1. Warm the oil in a heavy-based pan that will take everything later; a casserole or saucepan of 22cm / 9in diameter should be plenty big enough.
  2. Cook the pancetta, stirring, until it becomes crisp and bronzed, then add the peas and stir for a minute or so until the frozen look leaves them.
  3. Add the pasta and turn it about in the pancetta and peas then pour in the boiling water; I use cup measures - 2½ cups - for ease. Add salt (cautiously, especially if this is for children - the pancetta is salty, as is the Parmesan later); then turn down the heat and leave to 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 from the kettle.
  4. When it's ready, the pasta should be soft and starchy and the water absorbed. Beat the butter and Parmesan into the pan, check the seasoning and serve immediately into warm waiting bowls.

Tell us what you think

What 9 Others have said

  • Delicious. Made a veggie alternative using mushrooms, a handful of spinach added for the last couple of minutes & creme fraiche instead of butter. Also added peas at the end with the cheese and they are just defrosted and slightly crunchy.

    Posted by KOB49 on 11th September 2021
  • Absolutely love this recipe, make it frequently. Usually with speck instead of pancetta, a slug of wine, stock instead of water and a handful of fresh parsley.

    Posted by JennyThompson on 5th July 2021
  • Tried this tonight but couldn’t get pancetta so used smoked bacon and spicy chorizo. Was absolutely delicious!

    Posted by CaroleG on 16th June 2021
  • I substituted asparagus for the peas tonight and it was delicious! Has become a real favourite in our house and I love that you can mix up the veg and still get an amazing result!

    Posted by Mysticalmoo on 23rd May 2021
  • Made this recipe today. I used risoni as I couldn’t find any orzo. So quick and easy to make. The flavours are amazing. This will become a staple in my house.

    Posted by Mariad18 on 6th May 2021
  • Made this today after the recipe turned up in my inbox this morning. I had everything I needed in the house and also threw in some fried mushrooms at the end. Very tasty, the family demolished it!

    Posted by MadameKnight on 27th April 2021
  • A regular meal for us now. So easy, quick and tasty!

    Posted by Angiet477 on 21st July 2020
  • This is a terrific recipe, all the better for the fact that there is less washing up from cooking the pasta in the same pot as the sauce! I make this regularly for our family and double the recipe. I often also add a splash of vermouth before adding the water, as I would with a risotto. Such a tasty midweek dish - would heartily recommend!

    Posted by KMF3078 on 7th May 2020
  • Lovely with the pancetta, but just tried this with chorizo instead. Oh so, so good.

    Posted by Jules_C on 4th July 2018
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