Orecchiette with Pancetta, Pine Nuts and Broccolini

Pasta With Pancetta Recipe

I've been dying to use my homemade pancetta, so I figured what could be better than a simple pasta dish using pancetta as a main ingredient?

Boozy Epicure's Orecchiette
with Pancetta, Pine Nuts and Broccolini

This recipe has origins in hundreds you can find in cookbooks or online. Orecchiette means "little ears" and is a cute pasta shape that works perfectly to allow you all the components in one bite, but you can substitute any pasta shape you like. Just about any vegetable you want can be used, but broccoli rabe (rapini), regular broccoli, or any other green (peas are always welcome) would be my first choice substitutes. This recipe serves 2 quite well as an all-in-one meal.

Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound of pancetta, diced
1 bunch of broccolini
minced fresh garlic (I did 3 small cloves)
pinch of red pepper flake
1/4 cup pine nuts/pignoli
1 cup dry white wine
1 big tblsp creme fraiche  (you can sub heavy cream)
6 oz orecchiette pasta (or any small shape you prefer)

Start by putting on a pot of water for your pasta and prepping your pancetta and vegetables. You want small bites of the broccolini, and you'll be cooking the stems separately from the florets. This dish comes together quickly, so you'll want everything ready and waiting. The pop the pancetta in your pan with red pepper flakes and a little olive oil and get it started crisping up. Then add your garlic and pine nuts, cook for a minute or two (you don't want the garlic to burn) and pour in the white wine.

Pancetta in pan with red pepper flakes...
Pine nuts and garlic added...

White wine in and reducing.

Now you'll want to get your pasta in the boiling salted water. When you have two minutes left in the cooking time, add the stems of the broccolini to the pasta and water and add the florets to the pan with the pancetta and pine nuts.

Broccolini stems added to the cooking pasta
When the final two minutes are up, drain the pasta and broccolini, reserving a cup of the cooking water, and add all three to the pan with the pancetta, pine nuts, and broccolini florets.

Stir it well to combine, and over moderate heat, add a generous tblsp of creme fraiche to the pan, and continue stirring to incorporate the cream and finish the "sauce."

Serve with grated cheese on top and dinner is done.

Pasta and broccolini added to the pan...
Creme fraiche added.

The orecchiete are the perfect size and shape to hold onto the light sauce well. This isn't a heavy dish, it feels remarkably light even with the cream and the cheese, yet is a fully satisfying meal.

As far as wine, the simple sauce and green veggies worked beautifully tonight with Sauvignon Blanc, but a dry Riesling (I particularly like Riesling from Alsace, France) Pinot Gris or even Chardonnay would be a lovely pairing. Stick with something light and refreshing or else it will overpower the flavors in the dish.

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