Look around and see what happens – Pepper and Smoked Pancetta Crostini
My way of cooking is very much based on ‘Look around and see what you have’ concept, I open the fridge, I look in my larder drawers and then I usually come up with something. I do have some staples that I always keep at home or available, things like carrots, celery, onions, parsley, tomatoes and some of the vegetables that are in season which means that they taste better. I wont pretend I only buy seasonal but I try to. I also have stashes of pasta, grains like farro and barley, rice and polenta flour. Anchovy fillets in oil, olive, salted capers and jars with grilled peppers are also part of the staples together with various nuts, milk, parmesan cheese and eggs. I need to have a stockpile of food at home to feel safe but I used to be much worse; many years ago I lived alone in London for a year and I had a larder that would have outlasted a third world war, one of my favourite pastimes was food shopping and I am sure my arms got longer from all the heavy carrier bags filled with food that I dragged home almost daily. The strange thing is that I have very few memories of ever eating all that food, especially on my own, I remember making dinners for friends but never eating alone. What did I do with it?
So today I had decided to make a new start here on Lucullian, well I have been thinking about it for quite a while but you know how it is, the spirit is willing but the body is weak, in my case the finger that push the trigger on the camera. But today was the day, I hadn’t decided what to cook and post but I trusted the good old ‘Look around and see what you have’ strategy, it has worked so many times before and it would today again so why abandon it? I looked around and saw a red bell pepper, some smoked pancetta and bread. I added the mint and basil growing in my garden and that was it, it had to be Pepper and Smoked Pancetta Crostini! Easy, quick and good. That’s what I like.
This is how I made my Pepper and Smoked Pancetta Crostini: I chopped a mature red bell pepper finely and put that aside. I took about 125 g/4.4 oz smoked pancetta cut into small pieces (you don’t need to buy smoked pancetta, I use it because it is what I find here in Italy but you can easily substitute it with bacon) and fried it for a few minutes in a little extra-virgin olive oil in a pan and then I added the chopped pepper. I cooked them together for about five minutes on medium heat, stirring now and then. While they were happily cooking away, I ran out in the garden to get a few leaves of mint and some more basil and then chopped them. Go easy on the mint, you only want a hint of it but be generous with basil. Add the fresh herbs and mix well and remove the pan from the heat. Slice the bread and if you want you can toast it before spooning the pepper and pancetta mix on it, I used rustic homemade bread and did not toast it because I was lazy. That’s it, ready and done in 10 minutes.
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