Mortadella, peas, cream

I love frozen peas and will challenge anyone who says a bad word about them. Their very existence makes me happy and, yes, while they are not spring garden peas, their plump bright green little bodies always make it seem warmer than it really is. If it really is springtime, then feel free to use fresh peas after giving them a quick blanch in salted boiling water. Broad beans make a great substitute, but I’d insist on using fresh ones if you do.


Garganelle or rigatoni is my favourite pasta to use in this dish, as the peas and crisp cubes of mortadella fall into the hollows.

Mortadella, peas, cream

Serves 2

2 tablespoons salted butter 120 g thickly sliced mortadella

or smoked ham, cut into

pea-sized cubes 150 g frozen peas
100 ml pouring cream 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly

grated nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground

black pepper
handful of grated Parmigiano

Reggiano, plus extra to serve


Shapes I like with this 

garganelle, farfalle, paccheri


Shapes I like with this
conchiglie (shells), farfalle, penne, rigatoni

Bring a large saucepan of water to a lively boil and season as salty as the sea.

Peel the broccoli stalk to remove any woody bits, then cut the stalk into 1 cm-thick slices. Chop the florets into 50 cent-sized pieces – you want everything to be around the same size so it cooks evenly. Drop the broccoli into the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes, until just blanched and bright green. Using a slotted spoon, remove the broccoli and set aside. Keep the water on the boil and add your pasta.

Finely chop the broccoli into small pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until just starting

to turn golden, but please don’t let it burn. Add the chilli flakes and broccoli and toss everything together. Season lightly, remembering you have your salty feta and Parmigiano Reggiano to come. Give the mixture another toss.

Ladle 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) of the pasta cooking water into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the broccoli starts to soften but still has some bite (we don’t want a mush). Your finely chopped broccoli should drink up most of this water.

When your pasta is just al dente, use that slotted spoon again to scoop it directly into the sauce. Add the feta and give everything a good stir, adding some more pasta cooking water to loosen it all up. The pasta, broccoli and cheese will drink up a lot of the liquid, so keep this in mind as you’re after a loose sauce. Toss the pasta until the feta has all but melted and you are left with

a lovely creamy sauce.


Stir through the lemon zest and Parmigiano Reggiano. Give everything a final toss and serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.