One woman's foray into cooking for herself, for her family, and for her friends. It's not always picture-perfect, sometimes a little messy,
but it's always delicious. Join me in exploring new recipes, savoring the "résultats" and learning from the "erreurs".

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lunch & Dinner, Italian-Style

I was wandering around my kitchen at about 1:30 this afternoon, trying to figure out what I was going to have for lunch, a big concern since I hadn't had anything but coffee for breakfast. I was hungry. I had a summer squash sitting on the table that needed to be used. I opened the fridge and saw some leftover artichoke hearts, there's a little bit of fresh mozzarella, half of a nice tomato. There's half a loaf of bread I made on the counter. Ah. A panini. I grilled slices of the yellow squash, onion, and the artichoke hearts, and layered it on the bread with mozzarella on the bottom and top of the vegetables, drizzled with a little balsamic vinaigrette. I was happy with my panini-on-the-fly. And I cleaned out the fridge a little in the process!

For dinner, I tried a recipe my friend Linda from How To Cook A Wolf shared with me recently. The dish, Pasta alla Amatriciana, (Pasta with Tomato, Bacon and Onion), was so easy to prepare. I was surprised at how just a few ingredients could make such a big flavor impact! So delicious. Thank you, Linda!

Pasta alla Amatriciana
Pasta with Tomato, Bacon and Onion

"This dish is traditionally made with bucatini, also called perciatelli, which appear to be thick, round strands but are actually thin, extra-long tubes. Linguine works fine, too. When buying pancetta, ask the butcher to slice it 1/4 inch thick; if using bacon, buy slab bacon and cut it into 1/4-inch-thick slices yourself. If the pancetta that you’re using is very lean, it’s unlikely that you will need to drain off any fat before adding the onion. Use 1 1/2 small (14 1/2-ounce) cans of diced tomatoes, or dice a single large (28 ounce) can of whole tomatoes packed in juice."

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces pancetta (1/4-inch-thick sliced) or bacon, cut into strips about 1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide
1 medium onion , chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
2 1/2 cups diced tomatoes with juice
Table salt
1 pound bucatini , perciatelli, or linguine
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)

1. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large stockpot or Dutch oven.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add pancetta or bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer pancetta or bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel–lined plate; set aside. If necessary, drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet. Add onion to skillet; sauté over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and cook to release flavor, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and salt to taste; simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

3. While sauce is simmering, add 11/2 teaspoons salt and pasta to boiling water. Cook until pasta is al dente; drain and return pasta to empty pot.

4. Add pancetta to tomato sauce and adjust seasoning with salt. Add sauce to pot with pasta and toss over low heat to combine, about 30 seconds. Add cheese and toss again; serve.


Linda said...

Lovely girlfriend!
Just lovely!

Sal said...

Everything looks great! I think I might just give that panini a try! Can't go wrong with fresh mozzarella, after all!

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