2-3small parsnipspeeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1teaspoonwhole black peppercorns
½teaspooneach whole green and white peppercornsor use an additional teaspoon black pepper
1teaspoonwhole fennel seeds
½cupgrated Pecorino Romano cheeseplus additional for serving
½cupgrated Parmesan cheese
Lacinato or Tuscan kale leaves; about a handfultorn into pieces
Heat the oven to 425 (220 C) degrees.
Put the parsnips on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast until tender and lightly browned, 15 -20 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons kosher salt and the orecchiette and cook until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, put all the peppercorns in an electric spice or coffee grinder and pulse until coarsely ground (if you don’t have a coffee grinder dedicated to spices, crush the pepper in a manual pepper grinder or a mortar and pestle).
Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the peppercorns and whole fennel seeds and toast until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the butter and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir together until the butter melts, then remove from the heat.
Drain the pasta, reserving ¾ cup of the cooking water in a heatproof measuring cup. Add the pasta to the sauté pan along with the parsnips and both cheeses and toss it all together. Add some of the reserved water, a few tablespoons at a time, until the cheese melts into a creamy sauce; you might not use all the water.
Stir the kale leaves into the hot pasta to wilt them. Serve with additional cheese on the side.