Hi all! This glorious pepper and pancetta toriglioni pasta concoction is a yummy guest post by my treasured Italian friends Francesca (who wrote the recipe and the story) and Stefano (who did the photography.)
Many of you fellow bloggers already know and are fans of this talented Italian power couple, but for those of you not in the know, borrow two feet in addition to your own two feet (rough translation of a Persian saying, ha ha) and run and check out their food (authentic Italian cuisine & riveting storytelling), wine (reviews and inspired pairings – Stefano is a certified sommelier) and photography (outstanding nature and wildlife shots) blogs. I was already entirely “in like” with Francesca and Stefano as bloggers (I just really dig their vibe, you know, Italians and Iranians do share many cultural sensibilities believe it or not) and then we met in person and since, I’m just smitten and kookoo crazy about them with admiration and affection and can not say enough good things about them.
How we met in real life is that one Polar Vortex winter night, they threw a dinner party in their beautiful home, which ended up being a blogger’s summit of sorts! Of the 8 of us present, 6 were bloggers: Francesca, Stefano, Suzanne, Anatoli, and Oliver and me. Shockingly, none of us blogged about our get-together! But I must break the silence! Here’s a blurry Gif of a few snapshots of the evening. The 1st pic is the chic table setting in the dining room & the last pic is the kitchen in the final aftermath of the festivities!
The statistical breakdown of the dinner party:
1 cheerfully elegant home. 2 hosts. 6 guests. 3 food bloggers. 3 wine bloggers. 2 blog-tolerating civilians. 4 lawyers (only 2 currently practicing.) 2 American-born Americans. 6 accented-Americans. 1 excited puppy. 1 adorable princess. Tons of lip-smacking appetizers and delicious food. 100 bottles of various types of wine (only slightly exaggerating.) Countless good memories. Immeasurably divine hospitality. One fabulous, fabulous evening!
And with that, I finally give you the divine Francesca! (The most tenderhearted and warmest introvert I ever did meet! And oh, one more thing, do go and check out this wonderful gem of a book that Francesca recommended. It is one of my favorite readings – intriguing, delightful, elegant and cool. Basically: just like Fransesca herself!)
I have been lucky enough to get to meet Azita in person a few months ago. I don’t remember how we found each other on the blogosphere but I remember how I felt at the beginning of our “relationship”… cautious.
I have always been a big introvert and extremely good at keeping my distance from people – a huge disappointment due to a friendship that fell apart a couple of years ago didn’t help, and actually ended up making me even more skeptical, if possible, when it comes to meeting new people, either in person or over the internet.
However, when I started reading Azita’s posts, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the cheerfulness, the lightness and the language richness of her writing style.
There is no doubt that her country, culture and culinary traditions are fascinating in and of themselves, but she is astonishingly capable to write about them in such an articulate and eclectic way that every time I read one of her posts I have the impression of reading one chapter of “One Thousand and One Nights”, where flavors, aromas, perfumes and ancient customs all blend in together to give birth to something magical. (Editor’s note: Blushing! Stop! No, go on! Ha ha! Thank you!!!))
When I was about to meet her in person, I was nervous. I’m always nervous when I have to meet new people. It is simply not my thing! 😉 As soon as she stepped into my house, she came toward me and she hugged me and kissed me as if we had known each other for years. I will never forget that hug. Why? The warmth that her hug gave me as a human being was totally unexpected and yet so refreshing and fulfilling!
When I had to pick the dish to be published on Azita’s wonderful blog as a guest post, I immediately went for a pasta dish with peppers. Why? Well, I’m Italian and pasta is one of the emblems of my culinary tradition. So no doubt there! 🙂 The reason I picked peppers is because I think they represent Azita in her fullness. Their color is so vibrant that they bring cheerfulness and happiness in your life as soon as you look at them and their taste is so strongly flavorful and overwhelming that as soon as you eat them your taste buds are literally pervaded by their richness the same way I was by Azita’s hug that Sunday afternoon.
So from Italy to Iran – one way – with love! (Editor’s Note: Viva Italia! And the love runneth deep and runneth both ways!)
- 2 peppers
- 4 oz, chopped pancetta
- 1 leek
- 4 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
- 6/7 oz, pasta of your choice
- 2 Tbsp, grated Parmigiano cheese
- four/five thyme stalks
- Ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400F.
- Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Rinse the peppers under cold water, dry them and place them on a baking sheet (I always put some parchment paper on my baking sheet to be sure that nothing sticks 🙂 ). Bake for about 20 minutes (or until the peppers are cooked), take them out of the oven and, with the help of a knife and fork, remove the skin of the peppers.
- In the meantime, cut off the green top of the leek and its root. Discard the outer layer. Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse the halves well under water. On a chopping board, slice the leek thinly and evenly. In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil, add the leek slices, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Add some water and stir occasionally until the water evaporates. Set aside.
- In another skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of oil, add the pancetta and fry, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta gets golden and crispy. Set aside.
- Put a large pot of salted water over the stove to boil. While the water is warming up, place the peppers, the leek slices, some thyme leaves and 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a blender or a food processor. Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and blend everything until you obtain a smooth sauce. Transfer the sauce to a pot and warm it on a very low heat.
- When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and put it in the pot where you warmed the sauce and toss to coat. Add the pancetta and toss to coat.
Put the pasta into the serving plates, dust the top of each plate with some Parmigiano cheese and garnish the plate with some thyme leaves.
Grazie mille for the lovely guest post caro Francesca! And now, I plan to go and make and eat your pasta dish so that I can commence to resemble Sophia Loren.
Arrivederci dear readers until next!