macaroni peas. kind of.

i’ve been craving macaroni cheese and to be honest, it’s not going to be long before i give into that craving as i have the remnants of a cheeseboard in my fridge, so have lots of lovely interesting cheeses to add a real depth of flavour to the dish.

however, along the way i was distracted by hugh fearnley whittingstall’s recipe for macaroni peas… this is a lovely vegetarian pasta dish which really shows peas off at the their best and is very quick and easy to pull together. much healthier than macaroni cheese too!

the choice of pasta is flexible – orecchiette for me – as is the choice of cheese – i used grated comte in the pea sauce and finished with a sprinkling of grated parmesan when i served it. i also added a little squeeze of lemon to the sauce to lift and brighten its flavour a little more.

hugh fearnley whittingstall’s macaroni peas (serves 4)

500g peas (fresh or frozen) or petits pois

300g small macaroni, or smallish pasta shapes such as orecchiette or fusilli, or even risoni

50g butter

1 garlic clove, chopped

25g parmesan, hard goat’s cheese or other well-flavoured hard cheese, coarsely grated, plus extra to serve

sea salt and freshly ground

black pepper

a squeeze of lemon (optional)

shredded basil or flat-leaf parsley, to serve (optional)

put a large pan of well-salted water on to boil, so that you’re ready to cook the pasta while the sauce is coming together. put the peas in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender – just a couple of minutes for frozen or very tender fresh peas, longer for older fresh peas. when the peas are almost cooked, add the pasta to the other pan of boiling water and cook until al dente.

meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and add the garlic. let it cook gently for just a couple of minutes, without colouring, then remove from the heat.

drain the peas, reserving the cooking water. put about half of them in a blender with 6 tablespoons of the cooking water, the butter and garlic, and the grated cheese. blitz to a smooth, loose purée, adding a little more water if needed. combine with the whole peas and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

drain the pasta as soon as it is ready and toss immediately with the hot pea sauce. serve topped with plenty of ground black pepper and more grated parmesan. shredded basil or chopped flat-leaf parsley is a good, but by no means essential, finishing touch.