Could you please keep your voice down? I’m currently in an intense love affair with pancetta. I’ve used it twice in dinners this last week and I just have to tell someone. I find it incredible that it has taken me 28 years to meet pancetta, but now, everything is different. Pancetta is bacon, basically, cured but unsmoked. It is sliced thin as a ribbon and it seems to have some special power– whatever dish I add it to turns into my new favorite recipe.
Whole-Wheat Pappardelle with Arugula Pesto and Corn
Adapted from Food and Wine
2 cups loosely packed wild arugula (about 1 ounce), plus more arugula for garnish
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound dried whole-wheat pappardelle (I used pasta from Stillwater and Co gifted to me by the saxophone player in our band)
3 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/8 inch thick and cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
Kernels cut from 2 ears of corn (1 cup)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
In a pot of salted boiling water, blanch the 2 cups of arugula for 30 seconds. Using tongs, transfer the arugula to a colander and rinse under cold water. Squeeze the arugula dry and transfer to a blender. Add the garlic and almonds and pulse until finely chopped. With the blender on, gradually add the olive oil in a slow steady stream; season with salt.
Add the pappardelle to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the pancetta over moderate heat, stirring, until browned, 5 minutes. Spoon off most of the fat. Add the onion to the skillet and cook until translucent, 5 minutes. Add the corn and cook until crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the pasta, reserved pasta water, pesto and butter to the skillet and cook, tossing, until the pasta is hot and evenly coated. Season with salt and transfer to a bowl. Garnish with arugula leaves and serve, passing grated cheese at the table.
Here I am making dinner after a run and doing my Pancetta dance. (Izzy is pouting in the next room because pancetta is too expensive and I can’t spare her a nib. I told her to wait for Thanksgiving–maybe a pancetta and peanut butter-stuffed Kong is equivalent to a helping of turkey and gravy.)