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Linguine with Pancetta

For the past few weeks a few friends of mine have been traveling in Europe. Their first stop was in Italy, and one of the lovely ladies started a travel blog. I was excited to see her updates with each new stop, slightly jealous of the green trees, turquoise water, the pitchers of wine, and the FOOD! She only lasted a few posts (who could blame her – she’s traveling in Europe for Pete’s sake!), but I was still inspired to dream about one day traveling to Italy. Problem is we are stuck in the Great White North where spring may have finally just sprung and Kyle has already been to Italy … and not in a rush to return before traveling elsewhere.

So, since I won’t be heading to the land of pasta and wine anytime soon, I felt inspired to cook something with a wee bit of Italian flair. But not inspired enough to take more than 15 minutes to cook before I ate – I was starving damnit! Hmm…rummage through fridge: milk, orange juice, left over quinoa, mystery cheese in foil wrapper and PANCETTA! Dig through tiny pantry –> LINGUINE! And then I remember a recipe I read in one of Nigella’s books. Speedy, simple, and satisfying.

Before I give you the recipe, I leave you with another salute to my traveling buddies who have now gone on to join Royal Wedding Fever in London! Have fun guys!

Linguine with Garlic Oil & Pancetta

Adapted from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson

2 Tbsp garlic-infused olive oil (or 2 Tbsp olive oil + 2-3 peeled whole garlic cloves)
8 oz pancetta, diced
8 oz linguine
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, when everything is heating up, put the garlic olive oil (or both oil & garlic) and pancetta into an 8 x 12 roasting pan/ovenproof dish. Toss everything around so the pancetta is coated with olive oil. When the water’s boiling, throw the pan of pancetta into the oven, salt the pasta water and add the linguine. Everything should take about 10 minutes to cook. When the pasta’s done, reserve about a cup of the cooking water and then drain the pasta. Take the pancetta out of the oven. Tip the drained linguine into the dish and toss well. Add some of the pasta water (slowly) if you want more liquid.

Dinner is done. Nigella prefers to not serve this with parmesan, and only a light sprinkling of parsley. However, I crave airily grated parmesan on any pasta-related dish, and I like this one with parm as well. Since I don’t own garlic-oil, I’ve substituted it with plain olive oil and a few cloves of garlic (if you’re lucky enough to get the garlic on your plate you win a delicious pungent prize!).

Serves 2.

I served this with creamy spring peas. I felt I had to give a true ode to Italy with the white pasta, red pancetta, and green peas.

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