Sep 23, 2009

Blogger Culinary Challenge

I have to admit, when Heff put out the challenge this month and picked bow-tie pasta as the challenge ingredient, well...I was initially going to pass. I mean how was I going to encompass the wonder that is dried pasta in a way that doesn't diminish it's complexities.  There is only so much one can do with pasta and I wasn't sure that I was up to the task.


It's actually a fun idea to pick something that just about anyone can find a recipe for.  I'm looking forward to lots and lots of creative recipes for pasta of all shapes and sizes.  Here is mine:

Farfalle con Pomodorini, Basilico e Pancetta
(Bow-tie Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Pancetta)

About a year ago, Gia took me to an incredible Italian Restaurant in NYC called San Pietro.  There was a pasta dish that they made that she raved about.  Said I must try it.  It was very simple...just spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, olive oil and basil.  But the freshness of each ingredient is what made the dish so special.  And the wonderful thing about San Pietro is that they offer recipes for many of their dishes on their website.  So I borrowed this one.  And added pancetta to the mix.  Why?  Because pancetta is Italian for BACON!!!

Bippity boppity bacon!

There's a nice pic of all the ingredients with a view of the harbor from our back yard.  It's better than the view of our kitchen wallpaper.

1 pound bow-tie pasta
2 garlic cloves
1 pound cherry tomatoes quartered
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small bunch of fresh basil
1/2 pound pancetta cut thick and diced
Salt & Pepper to taste

I wound up doubling the ingredients and making a huge batch because I was serving dinner for 4.  And I don't know about you, but 1/4 pound of pasta ain't gonna do it for me.  Or Gia.  Or her father.  But you do what you gotta do.

  1. Brown the pancetta in one tablespoon of olive oil until nice and crispy.  Then drain and set aside on some paper towels to get rid of the extra grease.
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan and add the two cloves of garlic.  The recipe doesn't state specifically that you should crush the garlic, but I release the garlicky goodness.  Saute until the garlic is nice and soft and then remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add the quartered cherry tomatoes and any juice left over when cutting them up.  As soon as the tomatoes are steaming, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for around 7 minutes.
  4. Add as much basil as you like to the tomatoes, stir and cook for another 2 minutes
  5. Add the crispy pancetta to the mix (see note at the end of the post) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Finally add the cooked pasta (al dente) to the mix and heat for another minute or so.  Make sure you don't overcook the pasta.
Serve in large pasta bowl/dish with grated Romano cheese and a fresh drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil if you like.  You can also garnish the plate with more fresh basil and/or cherry tomatoes and serve with crusty Italian bread.

The perfect plate

As you can see, it's not a difficult recipe.  The key is to use the best and freshest ingredients.  I wasn't going to make my own bow-tie pasta so I used store-bought.  But be sure to spend the additional money for the extra-virgin olive oil.  It makes a big difference.  As do the freshest cherry tomatoes and basil that you can find.  I used Boar's Head pancetta from my local supermarket Deli counter, but I'm sure there are some wonderful Italian stores around that sell pancetta imported from Italy.

Turned out to be a delicous meal for us that night.  We all went back for seconds and thirds.  The garlic-infused olive oil goes so well with the fresh basil and sweet cherry tomatoes.  It's so simple it defies logic. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for some quick and easy, but at the same time slightly exotic. 

One last suggestion: Next time I make this I'm not going to add the crispy pancetta to the sauce in the pan.  I'm going to sprinkle it over each dish.  When you add it to the sauce, the pancetta loses it's crispiness and kind of gets lost in the mix.  And bacon, my friends, takes a back seat to no one!


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Did I mention that pancetta is Italian for BACON?


Anonymous said...

Dinner time here and still at work. Mmmm...pancetta...drooling...
Well done dude.

And get out! Is that a yacht in your backyard???

Slyde said...

im surprised you didnt throw and UTZ in there...

Heff said...

Very nice dish. Yeah, I picked pasta for that VERY reason, lol.

Verdant Earl said...

AK - it's not mine. Belongs to the guy who lives on it, believe it or not. The dock is on the neighbor's property but the boat looks like it is on ours. We don't have a dock. Sigh.

Slyde - I'm all about the class.

Heff - Yeah, but how can we compete with Donna? ;)

Jenny said...

I couldn't compete with Donna so I decided to suck up to Heff, then found out he's NOT THE JUDGE.

You had me at "fresh basil".

Verdant Earl said...

Boxer - Heya! I should have worked some Butlik into my post as well. But let's face it, Donna wins. ;)

Bruce Johnson said...

Bacon improves everything.......even sex.

Water Logged Canine said...

I wanna take a shit in your backyard.

h said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
k8 the gr8 said...


Verdant Earl said...

Bruce - do tell. Wait! Don't! Don't tell! Please!

Doggie - You mean you haven't already?

Troll - Sweet! But c'mon...Donna has it locked up, right?

K8 - Heya! And thanks!

moi said...

The best pastas are the simple pastas. And those that contain bacon. Well done. Now I'm REALLY hungry . . .

Verdant Earl said...

Moi - Heya! I agree. I'm having pasta tonight again. Rotelli with puttanesca sauce. Yum...olives, garlic and capers.

Aunty Belle said...

oh man oh man--this is sublime.

Lovin' the freshness quotient--simple and delicious.

hello haha narf said...

oh my fuck, that looks spectacular!!

my favorite pasta is similar...but i use both fresh garlic and onions, plus i use butter instead of evoo. close, right? wait, no it isn't. i was never smart enough to add BACON!!

well done, dude. well done.

justsomethoughts... said...

hope you made enough for all of us. damn it!
i enhusiastically agree with keeping the pancetta out until just before serving. it cannot properly express itself in a mushy state.

Verdant Earl said...

Belle - yeah, that's what initially drew us to this recipe.

Becky - you never thought to add bacon? My God, woman! ;)

Duder - it was a rookie mistake. NEver gonna happen again.

hello haha narf said...

let's just be thankful that there is a pasta dish that this single girl CAN cook and not fuck with her about not varying from a known good thing, mmmmmm k? seriously, i don't cook so it is a big deal that i even do that one dish! pffffft!

Verdant Earl said...

Becky - :)

livesbythewoods said...

Never mind the delicious looking food! I love your view!

If you ever invite the WithaYs for dinner we'll bring cocktails. And fishing rods.