Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Summery Taste of Peppers, or Why I have two freezers

I would like to say that I grow copious amounts of bell peppers every summer, but people who actually know me might call me out for lying. I do seem successful with jalapenos, but bell peppers not so much.  Fortunately, our CSA grows plenty, and starry-eyed, I'm happy to help relieve them of their surplus each summer.  We eat a ton of them, and then I roast the rest, using one of two methods I read in the Fine Cooking June/July 2008 issue.  They freeze brilliantly. 

In that same Fine Cooking issue, there was a recipe for Fire-Roasted Pepper and Shrimp Fettucine with Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs.  It's wonderful, but I didn't have any shrimp today.  What I did have was pancetta.  So I made this.  I think we like it better, which will not surprise most of my friends, who know that this is a pork fat house all the way.  Not a bad meal to have after shoveling out from under our fourth snow storm this month...

We followed it up with these, because, well, if you can't eat dessert after shoveling then why get out of bed in the morning?

I have to say that Black and White Cookies have never been my thing, but Black and White "Puffed Rice Cereal" Treats make a nice substitute.
Roasted Pepper and Pancetta Linguine with Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs
(adapted from Fine Cooking, June/July '08)

1/4 to 1/3 pound of pancetta, cut into lardons
4 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic, divided
1 shallot, finely diced, divided
Finely grated zest of a lemon
kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper (go easy on the salt because of the pancetta; you can always add more...salt or pancetta, for that matter!)
2 or 3 large red or orange bell peppers (see link below for roasting instructions; I'm sure it's blasphemy, but you could also just use jarred...), sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (or the ones in the fancy blue cardboard container...)
1/2 lb linguine  (you'll be reserving 1/2 cup pasta water)
3-4 cups loosely packed chopped arugula
2 large sprigs basil, coarsely chopped (do this at the last second so it doesn't blacken before you get it to the table)

1.  Heat 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add half of garlic and shallots, and cook, stirring, until slightly softened.  Add breadcrumbs, toss to coat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes (but watch carefully).  Scrape into a bowl, sprinkle with lemon zest, salt and pepper, toss and reserve.  Wipe out the skillet and return to heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook linguine until al dente.  Drain, and reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.

2.  Add pancetta to skillet and cook until crispy and golden, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Using a slotted spoon, move pancetta to a bowl and reserve.  Pour off all but about 1 tsp. of fat from pan, and add 1 tbsp. of olive oil.  Add remaining garlic and shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 2 minutes.  Add pepper strips and toss to mix; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Go easy on the salt, since the pancetta is salty.  Add 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water; lower heat to low.  Add linguine and arugula, and toss to wilt/coat.  Add remaining pasta water, toss to incorporate.  Chop basil, reserving some to sprinkle on top, and toss with pasta.  Add half of breadcrumb mixture; toss.

3.  Portion pasta into bowls or onto plates, sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs, pancetta, and basil.  Yum.
(You'll have to join their Cook's Club online to view.)


Lee Ann Spillane: said...

I'm with you on the cookies vs "puffed cereal treats"... yum! I need you to talk to me about this freezer business. Pros, cons, how do you fight off freezer-burn?

Also, What camera are you using for these pictures? They're gorgeous!

Christine said...

Hi Lee Ann,
Pros of the freezer: on days I'm too tired to cook, I often have leftovers in there that can just be defrosted/reheated; I can put by extras from the garden and CSA so I don't have to spend as much at Whole Foods every winter
Cons: freezers are too small? Actually, not everything freezes, so that's a con, and sometimes I forget to label things, and that can be a con.
Freezer burn is avoided by obsessive, tight wrapping and getting out as much air as possible. Also, making sure to defrost in the fridge helps a lot.
I'm using Larry's camera--it's a Nikon D80. Which means nothing to me, so I can't really explain too much!