Monday, 22 August 2011

Recipe XXII - Trottole Vegetariane (with Pancetta)

A couple of weeks ago, a former student of mine asked me if I could post a vegetarian dish. Now, I could never condone the ruination of a meal by omitting the only thing that makes it tasty, so I compromised. In this recipe, the pancetta is optional. Instead, why not add more vegetables, like aubergine, or at least add some mozzarella to it to make it a teensy-weensy bit more filling... In any case, this takes just over half an hour to prepare, cook and serve.

500g pasta
2 thick rashers of pancetta
1 red pepper
1 courgette
1 whole garlic bulb or 3 cloves of garlic
Some cherry tomatoes
Some fresh herbs
Some cooking olive oil
Some olive oil for drizzling
A large slice of parmigiano reggiano (Parmesan) for grating

Cut up the vegetables into the sizes you like. Some prefer round slices of courgette and some prefer quarters or halves. The same for the peppers - some like whole strips, some small squares.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, cut up the garlic into small pieces, cut up the pancetta with a decent pair of kitchen scissors, not forgetting to remove the hard edges and boney pieces left. Fill a saucepan with water and add a pinch of salt, put on a high temperature.

Take a large high-sided frying pan and put in your olive oil for cooking. Turn on the cooker to a high temperature and fry the bacon/pancetta pieces for a few minutes until browned. Remove them carefully from the hot oil, then put the pepper and courgette in the pan. After the initial sweat, turn the temperature down and add the remaining ingredients, except the Parmesan.

*Never put fresh herbs into the pan at the beginning, or they will just burn to a crisp. The same applies to dried herbs and garlic. Always put them in towards the end so they remain green or fresh.
Timing is essential - don't forget, if your veggies are ready before the pasta, take them off the heat until two minutes from when the pasta is ready.
Put the pancetta back in the frying pan and give it a quick mix in with the rest of the ingredients.
Drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil and cover with grated Parmesan.
Tremendous outside in the evening air with a lovely bottle of young white wine.

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