Summer Pasta with Figs, Pancetta and Basil

 

A bowl of fresh summer pastaThink pasta is too heavy to eat in the summertime? This week’s recipe for Summer Pasta with Figs, Pancetta and Basil will have you singing a different tune.

We have Chef Jaime Laurita to thank for this wonderfully light, fresh and flavorful dish. Chances are you’ve purchased his wines from Sunset Foods. On a hot day such as this, a cold glass of Chef Jaime’s Bello Boy Moscato or Perfect Prosecco would be the ideal accompaniment as you whip up this dish!

Chef Jaime Laurita

Like all our weeknight recipes, it comes together in no time. And as always, you can find all of the ingredients at your local Sunset Foods. So get your grocery list together and follow us to delicious.

This week’s recipe: Summer Pasta with Figs, Pancetta and Basil

 

What you need:

1 lb. Bucatini Pasta

4 Tbs Olive Oil

2 Tbs pancetta, diced (available in our deli)

1 shallot, diced

8 California fresh figs, quartered

1 c. chicken stock

4 Tbs lemon juice

salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste

1 handful basil leaves, chopped

1 handful mint leaves, chopped

3 Tbs Goat cheese

zest of one lemon

 

Why we like it:

This pasta dish is designed to be served and eaten at room temperature – which it makes it the perfect summertime meal. Because no one wants to sit down to a piping hot plate of anything in July, right?

How to prepare it:

In a large pasta pot, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Here’s a little known fact about boiling water for pasta. You always want to salt the water until it tastes like the ocean. This will help flavor the pasta as it cooks and absorbs the water. DO NOT ADD OIL! This will result in oily pasta, which makes it harder for your sauce to coat the noodles.

Always be sure to let your salt water come to a full boil before adding the pasta to it. Just as the temperature of your oven decreases when you put something inside, the water will temporarily come down in temperature when you add pasta to it. So if it wasn’t boiling to begin with, it will have to work even harder to reach a boil with the pasta in the pot.

One final tip to consider about pasta, when your noodles are done cooking, save some of the cooking water. You can add it to your sauce to give it a bit of a velvety mouth feel. (Trust us. With pasta, this is a good thing!)

Enough about the noodles. Let’s get on to the sauce! Get your ingredients together (remember, mise en place!) You will need to chop your basil, mint, shallots and garlic; dice your pancetta; zest your lemon; and quarter your figs.

Chopped vegetables, fruit, and herbs

Never eaten a fresh fig before? You are in for a treat! These luscious fruits may be best known as the filling for a certain cookie, but don’t underestimate their standalone power. The fig is actually a flower that inverted into itself! They are naturally sweet, with a unique texture that is smooth, chewy and crunchy all at once. We recommend you try one on its own before adding it to the dish.

To prepare your figs, you will need to remove the stem end from each one, then quarter them, like so:

Preparing the figs

When it comes to zesting your lemon, we cannot say enough good things about the Microplane zester. It does all the hard work for you, removing only the outer skin of the lemon that contains all those delicious essential oils, and leaves behind the bitter white pith. If you do not own one, it’s a great kitchen gadget to have. It can zest any citrus fruit, and can be used to grate fresh spices like nutmeg, or even hard blocks of cheeseZesting the lemon.

 

Now that everything is chopped, diced and zested, you can start cooking. Remember, this recipe is meant to be served at room temperature, so the ingredients in the sauce are not overly cooked in this dish.

You will need a large saucepan. Turn your burner to a medium heat and add the oil. Once hot, lower the heat and add the pancetta. You want to cook it until lightly brown – about 3 minutes.

Add the shallots to the pancetta and sauté for another 3 minutes. Then add the quartered figs, gently tossing the ingredients in the pan so that the figs maintain their structure.

Sauteing figs, pancetta, and shallots

Add the chicken stock and lemon juice, then bring to a gentle simmer in order for the sauce to get just hot enough to melt the goat cheese. Finish with a pinch of salt, pepper, basil and mint.

Adding herbs to the pasta sauce

In a large pasta bowl (or the pot you cooked the noodles in), add the sauce to the pasta and toss with the goat cheese and lemon zest.

Tossing sauce into the pasta

Finally, transfer pasta to bowls or plates, and sit down with a cold glass of wine to savor your creation.

A bowl of fresh summer pasta

 

 

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