Thursday, June 13, 2013

Recipe // Cilantro Pesto Vermicelli with Crimini Mushrooms, Pancetta and Fettunta

You know those times when you need a little bit of cilantro for garnish and then you have no idea what to do with the whole bunch after you've used your tiny little bit? Well be annoyed by this situation no more because using cilantro to make pesto is just about the best thing... ever. 

Wednesdays in the restaurant world are often Sundays. And yesterday we made the most of our lazy sunday by lounging about, catching up on the news + cooking this delicious lunch/brunchtime treat (followed by the cookies that Kentucky has been literally begging me to make all week)... 

Cilantro Pesto Vermicelli with Crimini Mushrooms, Pancetta and Fettunta
(Serves 2) 


1/2 pound       good pasta cooked in salted boiling water until al dente (we used this fancy vermicelli from Molino E Pastificio but you can use whatever you want really) 

For the Pesto

1 bunch           cilantro
1/2 cup            good olive oil 
1/4 cup            sliced, toasted almonds
1/4 cup            parmesan and/or romano cheese 
1 teaspoon      chili oil 
1 each             lime, juiced 
                        salt, to taste
                        fresh ground pepper, to taste

For the Mushrooms + Pancetta 

1 tablespoon   olive oil 
1/2 cup            pancetta, cut into thin stripes and diced
1 cup               crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced 
                        salt, to taste

For the Fettunta 

1/2 loaf           good sourdough or country-style bread, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 each            garlic cloves
                       olive oil for brushing 

Prepare the pesto

In a food processor combine the olive oil, cilantro and almonds and process until smooth.  Add the parmesan and process.  Add the lime juice, chili oil and process again.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Meanwhile... Heat some salty water to boiling and cook the pasta... 

Prepare the mushrooms and pancetta

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and add the pancetta.  Render the pancetta until brown.  Set aside the cooked pancetta with a slotted spoon and keep the fat in the pan.  Heat the fat and throw the mushrooms in to cook.  Cook mushrooms until nicely browned and flavorful.  Add a little salt to taste and set aside.  

Prepare the Fettunta 

Set your oven to broil and place the pieces of bread on a baking sheet.  Lightly brush each piece with olive oil.  Put the baking sheet with the bread onto the top oven rack and watch closely as it will burn if it broils for much longer than a minute.  Remove the bread when it's lightly browned and toasted and rub each piece with the garlic cloves as they come out of the oven.  


Mix the pesto with the cooked pasta and toss until well coated.  Add in the mushrooms and pancetta that you've set aside and finish with some grated parmesan.  Use the bread to sop up that yummy pesto once you've cleaned your plate. 

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