Monday, 30 November 2009

The 21st Century Housewife's© Easy "Green" Pasta with Pancetta

I’ll be posting some festive recipes soon, but for the moment I’m concentrating on easy, delicious recipes that make life less stressful at this busy time of year. This recipe is just right for one of those evenings after a long day, or after an exhausting session of Christmas shopping. It is so easy, and perfect for using up the lovely autumn vegetables we are getting now. Leeks and courgette (zucchini) are plentiful and they taste delicious. I like to use cubed pancetta (Italian bacon) in this recipe, but if you want to keep this recipe vegetarian, just use an extra tablespoon of olive oil and leave out the meat. It really is so quick to put together - okay, there is a little light chopping involved, but that can be quite therapeutic after a rough day!

You can use any pasta shapes you like for this, although penne is a good one to use as it is budget-friendly. By all means use whole wheat pasta if you want to ramp up the fibre and vitamin content; I did not have any the night I took the photograph so I used white pasta, but it makes no difference to the finished dish what sort you use. The recipe will serve 4 hungry people.

1 tablespoon olive oil (2 tablespoons if you are leaving out the pancetta)
70 grams of chopped pancetta (or bacon lardons)
(You can use 3 or 4 slices of streaky bacon, chopped, if you can’t find pancetta.)
3 leeks (white part only), washed and cut in thin slices
1 courgette (zucchini), washed and cut in fairly thin half moons
(Slice the stem and end off, then cut the courgette in half lengthwise, and then slice - this will give you half moons)
generous handful of frozen peas
250 grams pasta shapes
4 generous tablespoons ready-made basil pesto
2 tablespoons half fat (low fat) crème fraîche or sour cream

Prepare the vegetables and heat a medium size frying pan with a lid to medium heat. Add the pancetta or bacon (or heat 1 tablespoon oil in the pan if you are not using meat). Toss the pancetta (if using) around for a minute to allow some of the fat to release. Add the leeks and courgette (zucchini).

Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over the vegetables and toss with the pancetta. Cook for about five minutes and then put the lid on and stir occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften and the pancetta is cooked.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan in plenty of boiling salted water, according to package directions.

Add the pesto and crème fraîche or sour cream to the vegetables and pancetta in the frying pan. Stir and heat through.

Drain the pasta and return to its pan. Add the vegetable and pancetta sauce to the pasta and toss to coat.

Serve with a nice glass of red wine - you deserve it :)