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Polenta with Peas, Pancetta and Parmesan...

This is a tough time of year. Here in the UK we have a tiresome combination of cold, dark, blustery and wet. Despite a real passion for cooking the seasonal blues take hold and drain my motivation, especially when it comes to midweek meals.

This recipe from Rachel Ray via the Food Network provides the perfect solution. It’s easy to make, absolutely delicious and ticks all the comfort food boxes. As a one-pot meal it also saves on the washing up – BONUS!

Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Polenta with Peas, Pancetta and Parmesan

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2-3 slices of pancetta cut as thick as bacon, chopped (I have successfully used the following: thin pancetta, thick smoked back bacon and leftover roast honey-glazed gammon)

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup quick cooking polenta

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup frozen peas (thawed)

a couple handfuls of grated Parmesan / Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used Grana Padano)

 

Directions

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat

Add pancetta and cook until crisp (about 5-minutes) then remove to a plate

Add the chicken stock and milk to the sauce pan and bring to a boil

Whisk polenta into the liquid and continue to whisk for 2-3 minutes to thicken

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper

Stir through peas to heat through (about 1-2 minutes)

Remove from heat

Stir in cheese and adjust seasoning

Garnish with pancetta

 

Optional: garnish with a few slivers of the cheese as well (I have also started adding a knob of butter at the same time I add the cheese. For me it adds richness and makes it even creamier)

Enjoy!

Vermicelli With Lemon Sauce and Capers...

Vermicelli With Lemon Sauce and Capers

This time of year I find that I indulge a little too much in festive treats and comfort food. I’m not sure whether it’s the martinis that are festive and the mashed potatoes comforting – or the other way around. In any case I do like to ease up a bit and have some meals that are a little lighter and less intense then a bowl full of mash. I have always had a fondness for Vermicelli or Angel Hair Pasta as it is known across the pond and this recipe sounded too good not to try.

The recipe I based this on is by Kyle Phillips and I found it on About.com. It is a real winner and I feel it works perfectly on a cold winters day. It brings a little bit of sunshine to your dinner plate. I pretty much followed the recipe but I didn’t remove the garlic from the cream (and I used a lot more garlic – I am after all a garlic-oholic) and at the end I added a Tbsp or so of capers. Yummy!

You can find Kyle’s original recipe here

Vermicelli With Lemon Sauce and Capers (serves 4)

Ingredients

1 pound Vermicelli

Zest of 1 lemon (make sure to used unwaxed lemons if you can)

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 clove garlic (I used 3 large cloves)

1 cup cream

1 cup grated Parmigiano (I used Grana Padano)

1 Tbsp of capers

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Set slightly salted pasta water on to boil

In a large pot sauté the garlic in the butter and when it browns discard it (I didn’t let the garlic brown and I didn’t discard it. I had it minced quite finely and didn’t find it too overpowering)

Add half the cream and all the zest from the lemon – keep the sauce warm

When the water boils cook the pasta till it’s al dente and drain it

Stir the pasta into the sauce and toss it for a minute or two over moderate heat (at this point I added about 3/4 of the Grana Padano cheese)

Make sure to stir in sufficient cream to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan (with the final few tosses I added the Tbsp of capers)

After a minute or so scoop the vermicelli into a serving bowl

Serve at once with the rest of the grated cheese

Get stuck in and enjoy with a side of garlic bread!