But one cannot judge a meat on good looks alone, I needed to know how it tasted. After having consumed a good deal of bacon on its' own, I figured I should incorporate this cured meat into some sort of recipe. After picking up a gorgeous bunch of kale on impulse and taking inventory of ingredients on hand, a lovely pasta dish seemed only right. Never mind it was for breakfast. Pancetta is pretty much bacon anyway.
I used a whole wheat spaghetti for its' nutty flavor, but any pasta will do. There really isn't any sauce, allowing the pancetta to shine through instead. The earthy bitterness of both cauliflower and kale compliment the pancetta, while sweet squash contrasts it. You could just as easily use bright ingredients like fresh peas, artichokes, or asparagus for a springtime twist.
Roasted Cauliflower, Buttercup Squash, & Kale Spaghetti with Pancetta
1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
1 small cauliflower head, divided into florets
1 buttercup squash, peeled and chopped
3 1/2 inch thick slices pancetta, cubed
1/2 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, rough chopped
1/4 c chicken or beef stock
salt & pepper
Boil spaghetti in salted water until "al dente". Drain and toss with olive oil.
Roast cauliflower and squash in a 400 degree oven until crispy and browned (about 30 minutes).
Saute pancetta in large pan until also crispy and browned (About 8 minutes). Remove and drain on paper towels.
Add onions to pan and cook until tender (4 minutes). Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add kale and toss. Add stock and cover. Cook for 6 minutes. Remove from heat.
Toss vegetables with pasta, season with salt and pepper.
Top with pancetta.
I think the greatest lesson I am learning from all of these meaty DIY projects thus far is how special food traditions really are. It is so easy to order meat from the deli (well, other than the waiting part) and not give another thought to it. But when you take the time and effort to cure a piece of pork and watch it transform into something as identifiable and truly iconic as bacon, it really makes you stand back and appreciate the skill those before us had to not only survive on what they made, but make it so delicious too. I feel humbled by the craft I am learning.