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