a simpler sound.

Simple [and healthy!] Recipe: pasta with pancetta and garbanzo beans.


I love how simple Italian cooking can be.  It's so ingredient-focused, and takes advantage of what's fresh and in season. I could cook most dishes with five ingredients or less and still have a meal full of depth and flavor.  This quick recipe has a few more than five, but the key ingredients for my sauce are shown above.  
Pancetta, sometimes known as 'Italian bacon' is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with.  It's leaner than your usual bacon and isn't smoked, so the flavor is a bit more clean, but still has that salty, savory bite. [Check out this simple recipe too for another great way to use pancetta].

For this pasta dish, get your large pot filled with water and bring to a boil.  While you wait for the water, all you need to do is brown the pancetta until it crisps up, then add a bit of olive oil [no more than a tablespoon] if you need it, but usually the pancetta will impart enough fat to coat enough of the bottom of your pan.  Add your garlic and chickpeas, just lightly sautéing, making sure not to brown the garlic.  Add your tomatoes, and one cup of homemade chicken stock [I always keep some in my fridge and freezer, since it makes such a difference in so many recipes]. This will deglaze any brown bits from the bottom of your pan.  You can pull up anything that sticks to the pan with your wooden spoon [this is Italian cooking after all, a wooden spoon is essential!]. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper accordingly.  I also like to add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little spice. Let the sauce simmer while your pasta cooks [for this recipe I used about a half pound of whole wheat penne].


Once your pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving a bit of pasta water. Add your basil in at the last minute to the sauce, and then add your pasta with a few tablespoons of the pasta water.  


This recipe is a perfect one to whip up at the last minute.  You could easily use canned tomatoes, and dried basil [but fresh is always best with this sort of thing] if you haven't had time to head out for fresh produce. I've never used garbanzo beans [aka- chick peas] in my pasta before, but it added a nice heartiness to the meal. Chopped artichokes, olives, and peppers all make easy additions to pasta.  Once you have the basics down, putting together a quick pasta sauce becomes second nature.