Apr 19

1⁄2 lemon, juice only
4 baby artichokes
6 slices speck
1⁄4 c. grape tomatoes
extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper

1. Prepare the artichokes: Combine the lemon juice with water in a large bowl. Remove the tough outer leaves and, using a sharp paring knife, peel the outer layer of the artichokes, including the stem, until you reach the whitish inner layer. Trim off about 1⁄2 to 1 inch from the top of each artichoke. Slice the artichokes in 1⁄2 lengthwise and slice or scoop out and discard the hairy choke. Thinly slice the artichokes lengthwise and place the artichokes in the lemon water to prevent discoloration. 2. Arrange the speck slices on a large platter. 3. Drain the artichokes and pat dry. Arrange in a circle in the center of the speck slices. 4 Slice the tomatoes in 1⁄2 and arrange in the center of the artichoke circle. 5 Drizzle with olive oil and season with freshly ground pepper. Serves 2

Replace: speck with prosciutto

Medium-bodied red wine, such as Rosso di Montalcino

Feb 15

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 lb. pancetta, julienned
1 large carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1⁄2 c. lentils, rinsed and picked over
4 c. chicken broth, heated
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In an open pressure cooker over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook for 2 minutes. 2. Add the carrots and onions and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender. 3. Stir in the lentils, add the broth, bay leaf, and thyme and bring to a boil. 4. Close the lid and bring the cooker to full pressure. Cook for 5 minutes, then slowly depressurize the cooker. 5. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and serve. Serves 4

Replace: pancetta with unsmoked bacon
Replace: chicken broth with vegetable or beef broth

A medium to full-bodied red wine, such as Rosso Conero

Oct 5

3 tbsp. butter
1 small onion, diced
1 oz. pancetta, diced
2 c. Arborio rice
3⁄4 c. Pilsner-style beer
6 c. chicken stock, heated
1⁄2 c. Grana Padano, freshly grated
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped

1. In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tbsp. of the butter. Add the onions and pancetta and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the pancetta is golden. 2. Add the rice and toast for 3 minutes. 3. Deglaze with the beer and cook until it evaporates. 4. Add the stock in 1⁄2-c. increments, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more (you may not need to use all of the stock). 5. Continue to cook, stirring, until the rice is tender and creamy, about 20 minutes. 6. Add the Grana and remaining butter, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and stir well to combine. Serve immediately garnished with parsley. Serves 4

Replace: butter with extra-virgin olive oil, or use a combination of both

Replace: pancetta with unsmoked bacon

Beer used to cook the risotto or a medium-bodied red wine, such as Sangiovese di Romagna

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Aug 24
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6 thin slices pancetta, diced
1 small onion, diced
11⁄2 c. frozen green peas
3⁄4 c. chicken stock, plus extra
1 c. tomato purée
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. rigatoni
1⁄4 c. Grana Padano, freshly grated

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. 2. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden brown. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Stir in the peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Mix in the tomato purée and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, or until it reduces to a sauce consistency. 3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta and cook until al dente. 4. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with the Grana Padano and serve. Serves 4

Replace: pancetta with unsmoked bacon
Replace: Grana Padano with Parmigiano-Reggiano
Rule of Thumb: 6 qt. of water and 2 tbsp. of salt for 1 lb. of pasta
Light to medium-bodied red wine, such as Primitivo or Sangiovese
.

1. Sauté the pancetta in olive oil until golden brown. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
2. Add the tomato purée, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook for 10 minutes
3. Cook the rigatoni in boiling, salted water. Drain and add to the sauce. Toss and serve topped with grated Grana.

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