Nigel Slater’s recipe for orecchiette and broad beans

The recipe

Bring a deep pan of water to boil. Salt it lightly, then add 450g of shelled broad beans and let them cook for 4-7 minutes (depending on their size) until tender. Drain, then return the empty pan to the heat, with enough water in which to boil the pasta and salt it generously.

Remove and discard the skins from the broad beans then put most of the beans into the bowl of a food processor, reserving a handful of whole beans.

Add 160g of orecchiette or other small pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 9 minutes until al dente.

Add 125ml of olive oil to the broad beans, a little ground black pepper, 10g of basil leaves and 50ml of the water in which the pasta is cooking. Process to a smooth, rather thick green sauce.

Drain the pasta and toss with the broad bean sauce and the reserved whole beans. A little watercress or landcress on the side is a delightful contrast. Serves 2

The trick

The heat of the pasta and the addition of some of the pasta cooking water is enough to warm the broad bean sauce, but if you wish, you can re-heat it gently in a small pan before adding the drained pasta.

The twist

I sometimes lessen the quantity of pasta by almost half and increase the vegetables, adding lightly cooked asparagus or courgettes to the sauce with the whole broad beans. You could introduce a little grated salted ricotta as you serve.