Past experience has taught me that I can always add more lemon juice but I can’t take it away so I was skeptical about using the juice of two lemons in this recipe. Sure enough, one was plenty.
We all LOVED this but I’m not sure I’ll spend the extra money for the pancetta next time. Bacon would be just as good and a heck of a lot cheaper. I served this with an incredible beet, citrus and ricotta salad that I’ll be blogging soon and it was just the thing to cut the richness of the pasta.
Lemon Pasta Pronto
Modified from the Pioneer Woman
1 pound orecchiette
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 lb pancetta or bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 lemons, 1 juiced and both zested, divided
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup panko
1 cup grated pecorino
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
While the water is coming to a boil, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta (or bacon) and cook until the fat starts to render and the pancetta gets crispy. Add the thyme, garlic and onions and cook until the onions soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the zest and juice of one lemon, the peas and half and half. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
In a small skillet, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Add the panko and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the panko is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the zest of one lemon. Stir and then set aside.
Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet along with the pecorino. Toss together, taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. The original recipe calls for the juice of two lemons but a lot of people said it was too lemony. If you want more lemon flavor, add more juice. Remember, you can always add but you can’t take away!
To serve, spoon some of the pasta into a bowl or on a pasta plate. Sprinkle some of the crispy panko on top.