Friday, February 11, 2011

Peas with shallots & pancetta

Isn't that the most colorful and cheerful looking dish ever?  It may be that green is my favorite color, but there is something so gorgeous about a bowl of fresh vegetables (but kicked up a few notches!) at dinnertime!  

Most of the time my weeknight sides are something basic, steamed, and seasoned with salt and pepper variety: broccoli, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots... you get the idea.  Delicious?  Yes.  Exciting?  Hardly.  But isn't that what we all do?  Consider the vegetables a necessary part of a balanced meal and sneak them into our mouths between bites of the "good stuff."

Well, until a few days ago, I really was indifferent to what else came with my meal.  And then I spotted this recipe... I'm not even sure how I found it, quite honestly.  Some kind of frantic recipe search that leaves me wide-eyed and left to clean up the mess of scattered papers and cookbooks.  Imagine what Einstein's lab would've looked like and you won't be too far off... of course, then follows an also frantic organizing spree.  I guess you could say I'm a bit of a Type A personality... :)

But I wanted a pea recipe and boy did I hit the jackpot.  Peas with shallots and pancetta.  Don't be scared!  If that list of ingredients sounds like a foreign language to you, let me translate.   Shallots are tiny mild onions.  And pancetta.... oh, drool, pancetta.  

Per Wikipedia, "pancetta is an Italian type of cured meat, similar to bacon.  It is pork belly that has been salted and cured for about three months (but usually not smoked)."  To me, the flavor comes across somewhere between sweet Italian sausage and bacon.  You can eat it uncooked due to the curing, much like smoked salmon.  My new favorite person, the gourmet meat and cheese monger at Market District, let me sample a paper thin slice of it that literally melted in my mouth.  Heaven!  Just look at those marbled swirls:

This was the perfect side to an always-delicious but not very sightly meatloaf.  It's super easy, fool-proof, and quick quick quick.  Oh, and the flavor?  Get outta here!  I guarantee you'll be going back for seconds, even thirds.  That's right, more of the vegetable.  I was going to mention it earlier but you would've thought me crazy, right?  Now you know.  Take a little time this weekend and make this for your sweetheart or yourself, you won't be disappointed.  Finally, vegetables can be fun!  And lip-smacking good! ...when mixed with sweet and savory Italian specialty meat.  Heck yes.  Have a fantastically cozy Friday!

One Year Ago: Three machine gym routine

Peas with Shallots and Pancetta
(adapted from Bobby Flay)
-serves 4

A few notes: If you are unable to find bacon, you can easily substitute bacon! 

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound pancetta, cut into small dice
2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound frozen peas, thawed

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add pancetta and cook until golden brown and the fat has rendered.  Remove pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels.

Add shallots and pepper to the pan and cook until soft.  Add peas and cook until warmed through.  Add pancetta, toss to combine, and transfer to a large serving bowl.

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