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Posts Tagged ‘pancetta’

©StephenKolyer_dragontonguebeans

            Last summer I picked up some dragon tongue beans at the farmers market after the farmer told me that they were the best beans he had ever tasted.  I bought a pound or so and you know what, they were also the most flavorful beans I had ever experienced.  But, I also forgot about them until I saw them last week at the Barryville Farmers Market.  I immediately bought a couple of pounds.  The first round was simply steamed to garnish a Niçoise salad on a hot summer night, but then the last few handfuls were sautéed in extra virgin olive oil with ½ cup of diced pancetta and a couple of cloves of minced garlic.  They were so delicious and meaty they would have satisfied me as my main course.

 

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Our wonderful friend Stuart popped in this afternoon with a bag of fresh-from-the-earth ramps he’d picked up at the local ramp festival near his weekend house in Milford, Pennsylvania.  Dinner plans were thrown out the door and ramps went right on the menu – made a great pasta dish featuring the entire plant.  Here’s what I did.

Sauteed about ½ cup of diced pancetta in extra virgin olive oil.  When it started to brown, I added the sliced white bulb of the ramps.  Sautéed until just soft, then I added the sliced ramp greens and a couple of handfuls of fresh garden peas.  Tossed the mix into thin spaghetti which I moistened with just a touch of heavy cream.  When blended, I added about ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese and a good dose of pepper.  Dusted each serving with some toasted bread crumbs and served extra cheese on the side.  Spring had arrived!

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Here I go again – When I was little you only saw Brussels sprouts for a very short period in the fall – just through Thanksgiving.  I loved them then and I love them now.  The difference being that then they were cooked to near sogginess and now we eat them raw, roasted, grilled, steamed, pulled apart, sliced, halved, or whole.  It’s a whole new Brussels sprouts ball game!
Here is one of my favorite methods for cooking them.  A little tedious to prepare, but quick to finish.  First, pull the leaves from a couple of good handfuls of Brussels sprouts.  This will take a little time, but you can do it while having an aperitif.    Then fry up about 1/3 of a pound of diced slab bacon, pancetta, guanciale, or any other smoky pork product.  When crispy, toss in the leaves and, using tongs, toss and turn until just slightly wilted.  Add a good dose of cracked black pepper and the zest of 1 orange.  Sprinkle with a bit of moscato vinegar and serve as a side dish with grilled chops or toss the whole mess with some pasta.  If you didn’t like Brussels sprouts before, you will now.

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I have always loved fruit – all kinds of it – except for persimmons.  In the Midwest, my aunts used to make persimmon pudding and, although I love what I call “nursery desserts” I never liked this homey pudding.  I don’t know why because it really doesn’t have a defined fruit taste, it mostly tastes of the spices used to flavor it.  However, I do love the way persimmons look and, come fall, I always buy some to decorate the table.  Then, I feel guilty about wasting them so, from time to time, I will add a few slices to salads before they get too soft.  Here is a spinach-persimmon salad that I dressed with a warm vinaigrette made with the fat garnered from crisping some diced pancetta, the pancetta, moscato vinegar, a little orange zest, a touch of Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.  The Fuyu persimmon and the pancetta added just the right touch of crispness to the soft spinach.  But, you know what, I still don’t much like persimmon.

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I love olives!  In our many specialty food stores around Manhattan you can peruse tubs of multi-colored, multi-cultural flavorful cured olives – Greek, Italian, Tunisian, Spanish, and California.  None of them have even the faintest resemblance to the soft, almost-tasteless canned variety of my childhood, Thankfully!  I often buy pitted black kalamata olives and then doctor them up at home which can also do with the pedestrian canned.  They are terrific to always have on hand for a cocktail tidbit or to add a little bit of zip to a salad.  The other night I made a vinaigrette based on some pancetta that I had fried to a crisp, added a bit of orange juice and herb vinegar to the frying pan and then finished it off with some nice green olive oil.  Tossed it into a mix of frisee, watercress, olives, and orange segments for a refreshing first course for an informal get-together.

4 cups Greek or Italian black or green olives – pitted or not, as you like
2 tablespoons red chile flakes
2 tablespoons minced garlic or roasted garlic
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried fines herbes
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Approximately 2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Combine the olives with the chile flakes, garlic, orange zest, rosemary, and fines herbes in a mixing bowl.  Whisk the vinegar into the olive oil in another bowl.  Pack the olives into a clean container,  pour the olive oil mix over the top, cover, and store, refrigerated, for up to 2 months.  It is a good idea to let the olives marinate for a day or two before serving.

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