Baked Risotto with Peas, Asparagus, & Pancetta

In case you were worried that I wasn’t embracing early spring vegetables… I have another asparagus and pea recipe to share! ūüėČ

I almost exclusively use my pressure cooker just to make risotto. It converts an otherwise time-consuming dish into a lovely weeknight meal. Well, baking risotto performs similar magic. Fabulous!

This recipe was adapted from TheKitchn.com, contributed by Nealey Dozier. This risotto could also be par-baked in advance, the night before, and reheated on the stovetop with one or two cups of additional stock prior to serving. Perfect when entertaining guests.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 ounces finely chopped pancetta (or olive oil for vegetarian version)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 large shallots (4 cloves), finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1 pound pencil-thin asparagus stalks, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, or to taste
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven 400¬įF, preferably on convection.
  2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon butter and shallots to the pancetta drippings and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and sauté until every grain is coated with butter, about 1 minute.
  4. Increase heat to high. Pour in the wine and simmer until the liquid evaporates. Add stock and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the liquid is almost cooked out and the risotto is creamy, about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and place over moderate heat. Stir in peas and asparagus and cook until the vegetables are bright green and warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, Parmesan, and lemon zest. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with additional Parmesan and reserved pancetta.

To Make in Advance: Bake the risotto for 15 – 20 minutes. Cool and transfer to the refrigerator. When ready to serve, add 1 1/2 cups hot stock and vegetables and cook over medium heat until warm. Stir in the butter, Parmesan, and lemon zest. Season to taste.

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Bucatini with Lemony Carbonara

My son said, “I may not be able to eat another type of pasta for the rest of my life.” If that wasn’t enough, he then added, “This is one of the best dinners I’ve ever eaten.” I’ll take that complement! ūüôā

I must say that the bucatini noodles were wonderful. A perfect complement to this quick and luscious sauce. The added lemon zest and juice in this version of the classic dish balanced nicely with the richness. I also loved the hint of spice from the freshly cracked black pepper.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I served it with roasted asparagus on the side. Absolutely fabulous!

Yield: 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 to 8 ounces¬†pancetta, cubed, or slab bacon, thinly sliced and cut crosswise into ¬Ĺ-inch pieces
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 16 ounces bucatini or other long-strand pasta
  • coarse¬†salt
  • 2 ounces Parmesan or Grana¬†Padano Parmesan, grated, divided, plus more for serving
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus thinly sliced zest for serving (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook pancetta, tossing often, until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add pepper and cook, stirring often, just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1¬Ĺ cups pasta cooking liquid.
  5. Add pasta to skillet along with ¬Ĺ cup pasta cooking liquid and 1 oz. Parmesan and toss to coat.
  6. Remove skillet from heat and add egg yolks. Toss again, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a smooth glossy sauce coats pasta.
  7. Add grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and another 1 oz. Parmesan. Toss to coat, adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed to loosen sauce. (I added a total of 1 cup pasta water.)
  8. Divide pasta among bowls; top with sliced lemon zest and more Parmesan, as desired.

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Skillet Chicken with Tomatoes, Pancetta, & Mozzarella

Wow. This dish was AMAZING. I would describe it as a lighter take on chicken parmesan, but it even brings that classic dish to another level with its more complex flavors.

The first time I made this dish, I served it with roasted red potatoes and roasted broccoli on the side. Realizing that it would have been more perfect with pasta, we “had” to have it again. Absolute perfection served over rigatoni!

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. She referred to the dish as “Pizza Chicken.” ūüôā I used boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in, increased the garlic, decreased the pancetta, and used ciliegine instead of bocconcini. Fabulous!!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 ¬Ĺ pounds¬†boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 15)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • ¬ľ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 large basil sprig, plus more chopped basil for serving
  • 8 ounces bocconcini or ciliegine, halved (or use mozzarella cut into 3/4-inch pieces)
  • cooked pasta, such as rigatoni, for serving (tossed with pasta water, olive oil, or butter, as desired)

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large oven-proof skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pancetta to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  3. Working in two batches, add chicken to skillet. Sear, turning only occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil.
  4. Add garlic, anchovy and red pepper flakes to skillet; fry 1 minute.
  5. Stir in tomatoes and basil. Cook, breaking up tomatoes with a spatula, until sauce thickens somewhat, about 10 minutes.
  6. Return chicken to skillet. Transfer skillet to oven and cook, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink, about 30 minutes.
  7. Scatter bocconcini, ciliegine, or mozzarella pieces over skillet. Adjust oven temperature to broil. Return skillet to oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes (watch carefully to see that it does not burn).
  8. Garnish with pancetta and chopped basil before serving. Serve over pasta, as desired.

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Spinach Spaetzle with Bacon and Sage

This comfort food dish is truly season-less. It’s the easiest fresh pasta recipe EVER. These little German dumplings, or batter noodles, are cooked in minutes. The noodles can be prepared several hours in advance- finishing the dish by saut√©ing them with bacon and sage just prior to serving.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I modified the cooking method by using a potato ricer to form the noodles. In addition, I increased the spinach as well as the water in the batter. We ate it as a main dish but it would also be delicious as an indulgent side dish.

Yield: 6 servings

Time: about 1 hour

  • 6 ounces baby spinach leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • coarse salt
  • ¬ľ tsp grated nutmeg
  • ¬ľ tsp black pepper
  • 3 ¬ľ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces bacon or pancetta, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
  1. Drop spinach leaves into boiling water to blanch, about 30 seconds, then transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain spinach and squeeze dry.
  2. Put cooked spinach in a blender or food processor with the eggs and yolks and blitz briefly to make a green purée.
  3. Put spinach purée in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the nutmeg and the pepper.
  4. Beat in flour and 3/4 cup cold water to make a wet, sticky batter-like dough. Beat for 5 minutes, until lump free. If the mixture seems too stiff, beat in a few more tablespoons cold water. (Because I used a potato ricer, I thinned the batter to a more runny consistency by incorporating an additional 3 T of water.)
  5. Leave batter to rest at room temperature, covered, for 15 minutes. Prepare an ice-water bath. Place a colander within the ice-water bath.
  6. Bring a large wide pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  7. Holding the potato ricer over the boiling water, fill it with 1-2 ladles of batter; close and press the batter into the water. IMG_3886
  8. Let the spaetzle cook for 1 minute or so, until they rise to the surface. Remove with a skimmer and immediately cool in the colander in the ice water. Continue until all batter is used. Drain cooked spaetzle and blot dry. (I placed the spaetzle on a rimmed baking sheet which was lined with several layers of paper-towels.) *Note: The recipe may be prepared up to this point several hours before serving.*
  9. Just before serving, set a large wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and let it render without browning much, about 2 minutes. Pour off fat and leave bacon in pan. (To decrease the mess, I wiped out the fat with paper towels.)
  10. Add the butter and let it foam, then add sage leaves and let sizzle for 30 seconds.
  11. Add the cooked spaetzle and sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon until heated through and lightly browned.
  12. Transfer to a warm serving bowl, if desired. Serve immediately with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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Pancetta, White Bean, & Queso Fresco Empanadas

My son and I are huge empanada fans. (Now we’ve roped my husband in too!) So, last year we started the tradition of eating empanadas on Super Bowl Sunday. (With our guacamole, of course!) After seeing this version at Fiesta Friday, I knew I would have to choose this filling for one of our empanadas this year. They looked amazing.

The filling recipe was adapted from¬†Bourbon and Brown Sugar Blog. I used a large shallot instead of the onion, added garlic to the filling, and¬†chilled the empanadas prior to baking.¬†I also made homemade whole wheat empanada dough and modified the baking temperature and time. The dough recipe was adapted from Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World by Carla Hall with Genevieve Ko. I cut the dough into 5-inch rounds as they were our main course; 3-inch rounds would be a perfect appetizer size. Yummy!

For the Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Dough:

Yield: 18 5-inch disks

  • 1 1/2¬†cups whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 cups¬†all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1 /2¬†tsp coarse salt
  • 18 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 12 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch dice
  1. Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours and salt. With your hands, toss the butter and cream cheese in the flour mixture until each piece is lightly coated.
  2. With the paddle attachment, beat on low-speed until the dough comes together and forms a loose mass around the paddle.
  3. On two large pieces of plastic wrap, divide the dough in half and then gently pat each half of the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle.
  4. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. (Note: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months.)
  5. To Finish: On a floured work surface (or between layers of plastic wrap), roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick.
  6. Using a 5-inch round cutter (I placed the plastic-wrapped dough over a cutting board and cut the rounds using a bowl and sharp knife.), cut 18 rounds out of the dough, reshaping and re-rolling out the dough as necessary.

For the Pancetta, White Bean, & Queso Fresco Filling:

Yield: 18 empanadas

  • 8 ounces diced pancetta
  • ¬Ĺ jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 large shallot or ¬ľ onion, finely diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can small white beans
  • 8 ounces crumbled queso fresco
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 18 5-inch disks¬†of empanada dough (recipe above)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Fry pancetta until it begins to crisp up.
  3. Using the pancetta drippings left in the bottom of the pan, sauté the jalapenos, red peppers and onions on low heat about 10-12 minutes (the onions should be translucent).
  4. Add the white beans, and take off the heat.
  5. Add the crumbled queso fresco.
  6. Mound 2 tablespoons of the filling on half of the round and fold the other side over to form a half-moon. Press to seal the dough and pinch at intervals to make pleats. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling. (Alternatively, start at one end, pinch one corner between your thumb and forefinger and fold it over the rim. Pinch the dough next to the fold and fold again. Continue pinching and folding to create a decorative rope rim.)
  7. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes prior to baking but no longer than 1 day.
  8. Place the empanadas on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Braised Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

This quick cooking side dish is perfect for Thanksgiving or any other large holiday meal because it is prepared on the stove top when the oven is often too busy for another pan.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Suzanne Goin. According to the Times, braised vegetables are a hallmark of Goin’s cuisine. It was described as a “marvelously flavorful dish, rich with garlic and salty pancetta.” A keeper! I completely agree. Simple and perfect.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Time: 30 minutes

  • 1 ¬Ĺ cups fresh bread crumbs (I used prepared bread crumbs)
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds baby brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed (cut larger ones in two)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces pancetta in small dice (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¬Ĺ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¬Ĺ cup veal stock or rich chicken broth, more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix bread crumbs and thyme with 1/4 cup olive oil, and spread on a cookie sheet. Toast, tossing frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (I substituted prepared bread crumbs.)
  2. Heat butter and remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until foamy.
  3. Add brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add diced pancetta, and sauté, tossing frequently, until sprouts are well browned and softened slightly, and pancetta is crisp, about 10 minutes more.
  5. Reduce heat, add shallots and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  6. Increase heat to high, add balsamic vinegar and stock, and cook, tossing frequently, until sprouts are glazed and tender, about 10 minutes; add more stock if needed.
  7. Taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Transfer to a warm serving bowl and scatter bread crumbs on top. (We had bread crumbs on the side.)

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Penne with Radicchio

In my house, no one is a¬†huge fan of bitter radicchio in their salad. Cooking it not only decreases its bitterness, but also creates a rich and wonderful pasta sauce in this dish along with pancetta and cream. It’s great way to use this special¬†autumn¬†CSA box treat.

This recipe was adapted from Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta via giulianohazan.com. I modified the proportions of many ingredients, incorporated whole wheat pasta, and used leeks instead of sweet onions. Yummy.

Yield: Serves 2 to 3

  • 2 leeks, sliced into half moons, soaked and drained
  • 1 T unsalted¬†butter
  • 4 ounces pancetta,¬†cubed
  • 1/2 pound radicchio, finely shredded
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 sprigs flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped (about 2 T)
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat penne or fusilli
  • 6 T ¬†heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

IMG_1204

  1. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  2. Put the butter in a 12‚ÄĚ skillet and place over medium high heat. When the butter begins to melt, add the clean leeks¬†and saut√© until¬†softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the leeks are sautéing, remove any bruised leaves from the radicchio, cut it in half lengthwise and cut off the bottom of the root. Finely shred the radicchio. (I used a food processor.)
  4. When the leeks are soft, add the pancetta and cook until it loses its raw color 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the radicchio and season with salt and pepper. Add about 1/4 cup water, lower the heat to medium, and cover the pan.
  6. Cook until the radicchio is very tender, about 20 minutes. Check it periodically and add more water if the liquid evaporates before the radicchio is tender.
  7. While the radicchio is cooking, finely chop enough parsley to measure about 2 tablespoons.
  8. After the radicchio has been cooking for at least 15 minutes, generously salt the boiling pasta water, put in the penne, and stir well. Cook until al dente.
  9. When the radicchio is tender, uncover the pan, raise the heat and let any remaining moisture evaporate. Add the cream and parsley. Cook until the cream has thickened and reduced by about one-third.
  10. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and cheese. Top with additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and parsley, as desired. Serve at once.

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