Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One Down, Three To Go!

Races, that is! I ran the JP Morgan 4 Miler this past Sunday and I happily beat my last time by 5 minutes. I ran it in 38:02 so I'm getting faster, very slowly but surely, which makes me happy. This was the first of four races I have coming up so I'm practicing different types of preparation to see which works the best for my body. For shorter runs, not much prep is necessary but I like to figure out which combinations seem to fuel my body the best. It's like a little game I play with myself.

Anyway, I stayed home on Saturday night and had Allison (she was running too) over for dinner so I could cook a new pasta dish. I decided on gemelli pasta with escarole and pancetta. As I progress toward hopeful chefdom, I'm making it a rule that my cooking involve a new ingredient weekly at the very least. I'd never cooked with pancetta before which even shocks me! So, I chose this as something new and to get in my carbs before race day.

The dish is from a Food Network recipe I saw recently and it was delicious. I didn't go the route of using the breadcrumbs, only to eliminate extra carbs, but I didn't miss them. I loved the punch of the jalapeno vs. crushed red pepper. I often don't think to cook with jalapeno because my Italian roots don't steer me far from my beloved red pepper flakes. It worked nicely in this dish, though. I started by toasting the pine nuts with fresh cracked black pepper and salt while I sauteed the jalapeno, garlic, onion and pancetta:
I combined all the ingredients while the pasta cooked. One trick I like to do with pasta is to always "season" that first. I'll usually make an infused oil of some kind to toss the noodles in because every layer in cooking should be seasoned, especially with a bland ingredient like pasta. With this dish, I made garlic oil (just toss some minced garlic and salt in 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of olive oil and warm on super low heat so the flavors combine) so I tossed that with the hot pasta and then added everything else. It was absolutely delicious:
I loved the crunch of the escarole, the saltiness of the pancetta, and the pine nuts added that last creamy texture that tied it all together. I don't think I would have liked the dish as much without my garlic oil trick but that's just me. ;)

Oh, by the way, this dish wasn't the best for my run the next day because it was on the heavier side with the pine nuts and pancetta. That's what experimenting is for though, right? I still enjoyed every bite and now have a new (terrific!) recipe to add to the books!

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