May 21, 2010

Pancetta and Vegetables with Pasta

Originally I did not intend to add pasta to this dish, but I was making spaghetti for the kids and decided to mix some plain pasta in with the vegetables.  Mmmm.  I don't eat a lot of pasta, but it was really good and added a nice balance to the flavor and texture.  I'm always looking for new ways to make vegetables, and this one is a winner.

When I was a kid my mom would sometimes stop at farmer's markets to pick up fresh produce.  I loved going!  I would have taken some of everything if she would have allowed me to, especially in the fruit section.  I could have quite happily eaten my way through the generous mounds of berries, for instance.  Generally we'd come home with only a few items, and sometimes among them would be fresh Brussels sprouts.  I couldn't figure out why mom would want them, since I'd tried them cooked and thought they taste something like, well, garbage.  But they were so cute, like baby lettuce heads, and holding a container of them on the way home I got curious and I popped a raw one into my mouth.  I found it wasn't so bad after all, and regularly requested them from then on just so I could eat a few raw ones before they inevitably got cooked.  Now that I'm older I like cooked Brussels sprouts, especially prepared this way, with pancetta and balsamic vinegar and a companion of broccoli. 

Serves 4

Pancetta and Vegetables with Pasta

2 cups broccoli, chopped
2 cups Brussels sprouts, halved and trimmed
1 tbl. olive oil
1 tbl. butter
2 oz pancetta
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt, or, to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 tbl. balsamic vinegar
1/2 pound dry spaghetti
Grated parmesan cheese, optional

In a small saucepan, steam or boil the vegetables until crisp-tender.  In a separate pot boil spaghetti noodles until al dente, then drain and set aside. 

In a skillet heat oil and saute the pancetta until browned.  Add garlic, saute a few moments longer.  Add vegetables and saute until tender and slightly browned.  Add butter, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar;  toss wtih pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve hot.

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