I purchased a block of herb goat cheese the other day when I visited the Cheese Board in Linwood. A great little shop with delicious sandwiches and great cheese selection. The shop just re-opened after months of rebuilding due to a fire last year. I really missed it while it was closed. There are certain things you come to depend on when you live in a small area, like south jersey.
The cheese is called Le Carre du Berry made by P. Jaquin from La Vernelle France. You can smell the herbs d’provence through the plastic wrap. Really, really good. Very creamy but able to crumble.. delicious on crackers by itself served with wine and grapes.
So, tonight I was looking to make something quick and delish for dinner, I grabbed the cheese and a few other ingredients for a quick pasta dish.
The pancetta I chose is very nice, it’s from an unbelievable store that lets you sample everything. And I mean everything. Di Bruno Bros. in Philly at the Italian Market. You can visit their great website, but you miss out on the bunch of cute guys behind the counter, offering up a taste of anything you desire. Great shopping experience. Back to the pancetta. La Quercia Pancetta from Iowa.. yea, you read that correct. The maker studied in Parma, so it’s made in the old world style. This is a catch-all recipe. Throw in what you have that's fresh or clean out the fridge... tonight the asparagus were picked, the sundried tomatoes to add a sweet note to balance the tart goat cheese and the pancetta crisp.. make the perfect bite ending with a crispy, salty crunch.
Penne w/ Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Pancetta
Semolina Penne Pasta
1/2 c. La Quercia Pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch strips or diced
Asparagus Spears, cut in half or thirds
Garlic, chopped (not too small or it will burn)
tomatoes, roughly chopped
sundried tomatoes, chopped
goat cheese, crumbled
S + P
red pepper flakes
Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. In the meantime, heat a saute pan over high heat. Add in the pancetta, frying till almost crispy. Drain on paper toweling (or recycle paper bags) reserving for later.
Add in the bottom thicker part of the asparagus and cook 1 minute before adding in the rest. Depending on thickness of the spears... Cook till just crisp-tender. Lower heat and add garlic to pan, cook 1 minute. (You want it cooked but if it turns brown, it gets bitter. so watch!)
Add cooked penne to the saute pan (undercooked at al dente.. it will finish cooking in the saute pan). Add a ladle full of pasta cooking water. Stir and let simmer on low, allowing pasta to finish cooking. Fold in tomatoes, parsley, cracked pepper, red pepper flakes and sundried tomatoes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, add crumbled goat cheese and pancetta bits. Taste for seasoning. Always taste for seasoning.
the thin spring asparagus getting steamy...
(keep it crisp fresh)
toss in the penne pasta
the messy-looking, but yummy tasting finished product