Pancetta Pasta Pronto!

October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Sometime during my middle school years, my mom cobbled together a dish one night that is now fondly known as “Pesto Pasta Pronto!”. The exclamation point (which I visualize whenever I say it) added some pizazz and emphaiszed the alliteration nicely. On a side note this invisible yet seemingly mandatory exclamation point seems to surface in many aspects of my life (i.e. I have a friend who we now refer to in email writing, etc as “Craigers!”)

On nights when all of our crew practice, ballet lessons, choir practices, etc at up most of the evening, some diced rotisserie chicken, jarred pesto and bowtie pasta with freshly grated parmesan more than did the trick and certainly beat fast food. In my adult years, particularly lately, my go go go lifestyle has often caused me to to resort to Pesto Pasta Pronto! a time or two and all too often Seamlessweb is my go to for lunch, dinner and sometimes (gasp!) both. Lately however, I’ve tried to plan quick simple dishes that can rival takeout and do less damage budget wise. Often I take inspiration from recent restaurant dishes we’ve enjoyed, and lately two pastas from Maialino and Otto both featuring sausage and greens came to mind.

This may become my own signature quick pasta dish dubbed fittingly “Pancetta Pasta Pronto!” avec exclamation mark of course! While I didn’t measure any quantities exactly, this dish can certainly be improvised, substituted and/or tweaked to the ratios of your liking. The best part: it can be thrown together in just about 25 minutes. In keeping with the pronto theme of this post, I didn’t even snap a photo before we dove in!

Pancetta Pasta Pronto!
Serves 2

1/4 cup diced pancetta
1 yellow pepper, julienned
1 bunch broccolini (cut into small floret and a bit thinly sliced stalk)
1/2 pound dry penne rigate
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, more for garnish
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

Meanwhile, over medium high heat, saute pancetta until crispy and set aside. In same pan, saute yellow pepper until slightly caramelized and tender. Add broccolini florets and stalk slivers. (I love how momofuku ssam bar serves the sliced stalk in their spicy sausage rice cakes, so I’ve taken to doing the same…) Saute until tender and slightly browned/charred. Set veggies and pancetta aside (I kept mine in a warm oven).

At the same time as you cook the pancetta and veggies, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in pasta and cook until just al dente. Strain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Return pasta to pot and stir in pancetta, peppers and broccolini. Add 1/4 cup pasta water, about 2 tablespoons heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Still well and season liberally with salt and pepper. Depending on the sauciness at this point, add additional pasta water and cream as needed unti pasta is coated in a nice creamy sauce.

Sprinkle with additional parmesan if desired and serve. And there you have it: Pancetta Pasta Pronto!

Substitutions

Here are a few subsitutions that crossed my mind as I made this dish. I’m sure I will dabble with these variations in the near future:

Pancetta – You could use several slices of bacon or italian sausage with the casing removed. Proscuitto could aslo be stirred in a the very end (so as not to overcook it)
Yellow Pepper – A sweet onion or shallots would work nicely here as well.
Broccolini – I had originally thought to use chard but this was what Trader Joes had to offer (and I may even prefer it!)  Broccoli Rabe or spinach would also be nice.
Penne – Orecchiette, fusili or linguine may also be nice in this

Basically the sky is the limit!

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