The classic combination of creamy ricotta, sweet peas and bright lemon is highlighted in this pasta dish. To up the flavor even more, I throw in a couple of my favorite ingredients- sweet caramelized onions and salty Italian pancetta. Since ricotta is the base of this simple sauce, using a good quality fresh ricotta makes a world of a difference in the final product. —Sonali aka the Foodie Physician
Heat 1 tablespoon oil and the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and season them with ¼ teaspoon salt and the sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until onions are golden and caramelized, about 35 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan. Place the onions in a bowl and clean the pan.
While the onions are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the orecchiette and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside. Reserve 1 ½ cups of pasta water.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and crispy. Lower heat to medium and add the garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the peas, ricotta cheese and enough of the pasta water (about 1 cup) so that a thick sauce forms. Stir in the caramelized onions and lemon zest. Then add the pasta and stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Add more pasta water as needed to coat the pasta. Serve with a dollop of ricotta on top and garnish with olive oil and black pepper.