FFWD – Pancetta Green Beans

Every neighbourhood has its treasures. After living somewhere for a while, you start to realize that what you thought of as personal discoveries are often really open secrets. My neighbourhood has more than its share. Lombardo’s may be in a mini-mall, but people come from all over for its pizza and pasta. (They also quote Virginia Woolf in the header of their web page, which gives them extra points, I think.) Fratelli’s Saint Honoré is often called the East Van Birthday Cake. And everyone braves the dreaded line up at Santa Barbara Market for deals on cheeses, deli meats and olive oil. Though La Grotta Del Formaggio and Les Amis du Fromage are fancier and have more selection, you can get good quality cheaply at Santa Barbara.

Luckily, there were only four people ahead of me in line when I went there to pick up pancetta for this week’s French Friday recipe. As a bonus, the green beans at Santa Barbara were nice, so I picked those up there, too. Green beans are a staple at our house, but we usually prepare them quite simply – steamed with a squeeze of lemon, or with a dusting of herbs and a little butter. A delicious rut, but a rut nevertheless.

Enter Pancetta Green Beans. It’s a quick side dish – blanched beans are added to well-cooked chopped pancetta and finished with a drizzle of walnut oil. We had it with baked sage butter halibut and the two dishes contrasted nicely. When I finally get a small chest freezer, this would be a great recipe to use up all those green beans I’m going to blanch and freeze when they’re in season.

I have to admit, though, that I’m not a huge fan of pancetta. I agree that a sliver or two can add some punch to a meal, but any more than that is far too salty for me. Perhaps if I’d made my own, like these folks, I’d feel differently. As it is, I think next time I make this dish, I’ll use a quarter of the amount of pancetta called for in the recipe.

I am inspired to experiment a little more with green beans. One cannot live by steamed beans alone. I think I’ll start with this.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Pancetta Green Beans

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16 thoughts on “FFWD – Pancetta Green Beans

  1. Your observations about ‘neighbourhood’ treasures are so true! I grew up with a mother who was incredibly picky about what she bought from whom and where! And I realised reading your post I’ve turned out just the same! Great post!

  2. Neighborhood markets are the best and so easily overlooked. I have the best butcher just a few blocks over and never even knew it until I stumbled across them when I took a detour on a run one morning.

  3. I have a ‘Main Street’ in my town and there’s a butcher there but all other groceries are from the Big Box stores. It would nice to have a market like the one in your neighbourhood. The green beans with pancetta looks delicious. I have a rut with them in my household too – steamed and drizzled with fried shallot oil.

  4. Wow – this was such a fun post ! I loved your photos of the shop, this was such a neat thing for you to share. And with spring coming …eventually……I look forward to getting out with Nana and exploring some more of the wonderful local places we have as well. Great job on the beans and photos too !

  5. Your grocery store looks great! Great photos! 🙂 Sorry you didn’t love the pancetta…I do think one good thing about dishes like this is that once you try it and don’t like a certain proportion of ingredients, you can always change it up the next time.

  6. Your market looks like a wonderful treasure. I wish we had more of those around here. I was thinking some slivered almonds would have gone nicely in this dish. You’ll have to share with us some of the bean recipes you experiment with. That last photo of your beans just makes me want to make them again!

  7. @sanyaliving – I grew up in the suburbs, so didn’t have that experience until I was an adult. Wouldn’t trade it for the world, now.
    @Betsy – I really do feel lucky. My neighbourhood is great.
    @Cher – it really pays to wander one’s neighbourhood on foot – you never know what you’ll find and it’s so easy to miss things on transit or in cars.
    @Ker-Yng – I know what you mean about big box stores. There were a lot of them where I grew up. The shallot oil sounds like a great idea for green beans. I’ll have to try it!
    @Tricia – Thanks! I really enjoy talking about my neighbourhood and city. It’s the specifics of cities that I’ve visited that are the things I remember, so that’s what I like to share about mine. Exploring neighbourhoods (when the weather is good) is rewarding and relaxing – have fun!
    @Sara – Thanks! It’s a great little place and we’re lucky to have several good, small grocery stores in the neighbourhood. Though the pancetta was a bit much for me, I’ll make this again. You’re right about this sort of recipe. I always try to make the recipe as written the first time (unless I need to convert it to gluten-free), then make it my own thereafter.
    @Elaine -it’s a great little place! Almonds would be terrific with this, you’re right.

  8. Yes, I agree with others that a wonderful neighborhood market would be a treasure…one where they know your name at the check out and where you can find specialty items without the same old national brand. Wonderful post…brought back memories of small town living…back before Walmart.

  9. My neighborhood market is a wonderful little hometown locally owned place. The beef is local and it’s the best beef around! Thank you for the reminder of these treasures we can take for granted!
    Im glad you loved the greenbeans. We enjoyed them here too.!

  10. @Krissy – Thanks! I’m glad we still have such options in a mid-sized city like Vancouver.
    @Flourchild – local beef would be a wonderful option to have – lucky!
    @Steph – Thanks! I really want to try these again, with less pancetta.

  11. Oh the Drive! I housesit there for a month almost every year so I’m quite a fan of your personal discoveries! Lombardos is king though. Hands down. Your beans look amazing!

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