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Pancetta and Beans with Spinach

December 13, 2016 Entrees, Menu No Comments

With the cold winter weather rolling in, now’s the time to start planning some good, old fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meals. The dish that I’m sharing with you today is one of my all time favorites. The simple, yet classic ingredients make for a wonderfully tasty and hearty comfort dish. Old-school Italian soul food at its best!






Pancetta and Beans with Spinach

4 oz pancetta, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 14.5 oz stewed tomatoes, drained
1 15 oz can cannellini or garbanzo beans (I use a mixture of both)
1 bag spinach
olive oil (if needed)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth (if needed)
salt and pepper

Sauté pancetta in a large pan over medium heat until crispy and fat is rendered, about 7-10 minutes. Remove pancetta and set aside.

Add onion to rendered fat in the pan, sauté until soft and translucent (you can add some olive oil if needed). Add tomatoes and beans, stir together, cook until heated.

Add the spinach, stir together. You can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chick broth if needed, to help cook down the spinach.

Once the spinach is cooked down, add the pancetta back to the pan. Stir together, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and enjoy with a loaf of crispy Italian bread!




Pancetta Sage Herb Bread

December 4, 2014 Menu No Comments

Home-baked bread is always a nice offering for a dinner party, whether you are hosting or attending one with family or friends. A nice bottle of wine is an easy (and appreciated) fall-back, but when you present a loaf of home-baked bread, it shows that you put a little extra TLC into your thoughts. The recipe for the bread that I am sharing today is perfect for any upcoming holiday gathering, or for a nice Sunday family dinner. I’m using a basic Italian Herb Bread recipe that I found at allrecipes.com, and am adding two of my favorite complementary ingredients….pancetta and fresh sage. The combination of the two add a delicious salty and savory punch to an already flavorful bread. No need to be intimidated if you don’t have much bread-making experience. This recipe is fairly simple and basic, and is a great introduction for those who would like to give bread-making a try.




Pancetta Sage Herb Bread

inspired by a recipe found at allrecipes.com

4 oz diced pancetta (you can often find pre-diced packets in your grocery store)

3 tbspn fresh sage, finely chopped

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast 

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C) 

1 tablespoon white sugar 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

1/2 teaspoons salt 

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/2 teaspoon onion powder 

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese 

3 cups bread flour


Sauté chopped pancetta over medium heat until fat is rendered and it starts to brown. Remove from heat, set aside to cool.

Mix yeast, warm water, and white sugar together in a large bowl. Set aside for five minutes, or until mixture becomes foamy.

Stir olive oil, salt, pancetta, sage, garlic powder, onion powder, cheese, and 1-1/2 cups flour into the yeast mixture. Gradually mix in the remaining flour. Dough will be stiff.

Knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and rubbery. Place in an oiled bowl, and turn to cover the surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a damp linen dish towel. Allow to rise for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch dough down to release all the air. Shape into a loaf. Place loaf on a greased cookie sheet, or into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about a 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Remove loaf from pan, and let cool on wire racks for at least 15 minutes before slicing.



Creamy White Bean and Leek Soup with Swiss Chard and Pancetta

December 5, 2013 Menu, Soup No Comments

The winter chill is starting to settle in, which makes it a perfect time to start thinking about hearty soups and stews. As the season’s first big freeze rolled in last weekend, I took advantage of the time spent indoors to put together a delicious creamy white bean soup. Along with some sauteed leeks, carrots and celery, I also added to the mix two of my favorite white bean counterparts – swiss chard and pancetta. If you are looking for a pure vegetable soup, you can omit the pancetta. While the pancetta gives the soup a beautifully added taste and texture, I won’t hold it against you if you decide to go without it…but if you give the pancetta a try, I guarantee you’ll love it!




Creamy White Bean and Leek Soup with Swiss Chard and Pancetta

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
32 oz vegetable broth
4 oz pancetta, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced thin
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 15 oz can cannelini beans, drained
1 bunch green swiss chard, choppped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large, heavy soup pot heat 1 tbspn oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt, stir to evenly coat the leeks. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes, or until the leeks are tender. Add the garlic, stir. Cook for about a minute, or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the broth, bring to a boil and reduce heat. Add the beans, stir. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

In a separate pan, heat the remaining tbspn oil. Add the carrots and celery, cook for 5 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the pancetta,stir. Sauté until pancetta is cooked, and the fat is rendered. Drain excess oil from pan, set pancetta, carrots and celery aside.

Next, you’ll want to purée the soup with an immersion blender, or on slow speed in batches in a blender, taking care to remove the lid or take out the center insert and to cover with a towel to avoid hot splashes. Return to the pot, heat through, and add pepper to taste. Because of the saltiness from the pancetta, you won’t need to add any extra salt. Add the celery, carrots and pancetta to the soup, stir together. Add the swiss chard, stir. Cover and simmer on medium-low for about 10 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Julianna gave the thumbs-up on the soup!

Julianna gave the thumbs-up on the soup!


Broiled Rainbow Trout with Cannellini Beans and Pancetta

November 27, 2012 Entrees, Menu No Comments

After getting through yet another Thanksgiving weekend filled with way too much food and celebration (what other kind of holiday weekend is there, really?) I decided yesterday to switch gears completely and go with a healthy (ok, healthier) dinner. One of the meals that I enjoyed a few weeks back while on vacation in Disney World was broiled rainbow trout served over a mixture of white beans, arugula and bacon. It was definitely on my ‘to do’ list to recreate this dish, and yesterday was the perfect opportunity.

Instead of using bacon, which is always paired nicely with rainbow trout, I opted for one of my favorite Italian go-to accent ingredients…pancetta! I also wanted to substitute a more hearty green for the arugula, and went with a nice side of broccoli rabe. You can also use a more leafy green, such as sauteed swiss chard or escarole and incorporate it into the bean mixture. Because broccoli rabe is more of a chunky green, it works better as a side dish in this instance.

Assembling this dish was fairly easy: first sauteing the pancetta and beans in a skillet, then seasoning and broiling the trout. Plating this dish rustic style is the best way to serve it – simply place the broiled trout filets over the bean mixture, and drizzle with a balsamic reduction. The rustic presentation will make for a nice dish to serve this holiday season at a dinner party…or better yet, as part of your Feast of the 7 Fishes.

Broiled Rainbow Trout with Cannellini Beans and Pancetta

1 15 oz can cannellini beans
4 oz (or two 1/4″ thick slices) pancetta, sliced into small cubes
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (your choice)
2 filets rainbow trout
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Step 1: Prepare the Beans
In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tbspns olive oil. Add the onion, stir and cook until translucent. Add the pancetta and stir together. Cook over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, or until pancetta becomes slightly crisp. Add a bit of the broth as needed to keep the pancetta from sticking to the pan. Drain the beans, then add to the pancetta. Stir and cook for about 3-5 minutes until beans are warmed, again adding more broth as needed to keep from sticking to the pan. Remove from heat, cover to keep warm. You can also add sauteed greens to the mixture, such as swiss chard or escarole.

Step 2: Prepare the Rainbow Trout
Turn your broiler to 500˚, placing the cooking rack closest to the top. Lightly oil the filets on both the meat and skin side, season with salt and pepper. Cover a baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly oil. Place the filets on the dish, skin-side down. Broil for 4-5 minutes, or until the trout starts to flake. Check it often to make sure it does not burn. Carefully remove from broiler. The skin should peel off easily at this point (you can also remove the skin as you serve the fish).

Step 3: Plating the Meal
Using a large serving dish, spread out the bean mixture evenly. Place the filets on top of the beans. You can break the filets into smaller pieces for easier serving. Drizzle with a balsamic reduction*. Serve with a nice, crisp white wine.

*Balsamic Reduction
To reduce balsamic vinegar simply means to cook it in a skillet or pan until it starts to thicken. Because it reduces, you want to use about 4 times as much as you will need for drizzling. For this recipe, you will use 1 cup balsamic. Pour the balsamic into a skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer until it starts to thicken up (about 3-5 minutes total). It will continue to thicken up after you remove the pan from the heat, so be sure to remove it from the heat while it’s still a just a bit thinner than you prefer. Drizzle over the fish.

And speaking of Disney….

I finally got to personally meet and spend some quality time with my favorite celebrity chef!



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