When you are feeling a bit funky what do you crave? Well, first stop, comfort food! During my recent bout of funkiness I wanted something comforting, easy and nourishing to eat. Also, it had to be in my pantry or fridge because that's as far as I was willing to walk. I had a handful of fresh asparagus a half bag of rotini pasta, a lemon, pancetta and some herbs...and a plan. I was craving something as comforting as risotto when I remembered watching Jimmy, the chef at our watercolor retreat in Italy, as he cooked pasta using the same method as risotto...by absorption!
Obviously you could substitute other pastas, veggies and add-ins...sky's the limit! Also, to make it vegan, no cheese or meat...and switch to vegetable stock.
Absorption Rotini with Asparagus, Pancetta, Lemon and Herbs
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 lb. good-quality rotini pasta
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped
2-3 slices of pancetta, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch asparagus, slightly steamed and cut into 1/4" pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Zest of one lemon
3 cups (approximately) Warm chicken stock
1/2 Tbs each - fresh oregano, rosemary, thyme, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
~Prepare the steamed asparagus, cut and set aside.
~Sauté the pancetta in the olive oil to crisp it up, remove and set aside
~Sauté the shallots, garlic and pasta together in the remaining olive oil until the shallots are soft, careful not to burn...
~Pour in 2.5 or 3 cups of chicken stock and give it a good stir (the pasta should be nearly covered). Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to keep it from boiling. Cook for twelve to 15 minutes, depending on the cook time of the pasta you use, stirring occasionally.
~The magic happens as the pasta absorbs the stock and begins to cook. Taste test frequently. The finished texture will be chewy but cooked.
~When the pasta is finished cooking you should have a nice rich sauce at the bottom of the pan.
~ Add the steamed asparagus and pancetta, heat through.
~Remove pan from heat, add herbs, lemon zest, grated Parmigiano and salt and pepper to taste.
Try it, you'll like it!!