I first saw mention of this dish in The Silver Spoon, which is as I understand it, the best-selling and most preeminent Italian cookbook of the last half-century. It’s on my “to get” list this year.
Normally I rarely cook directly from cookbooks, using them primarily for reference material and sources of inspiration. When I visit my farmer’s market for example, I will usually see what looks good, then use that as a basis for my meals. But this dish, which struck me as the essence of simplicity (after all, it’s just pancetta and peas), inspired me to deviate from my usual routine.
When you buy pancetta, the slicer will usually ask you whether you want “thick” or “thin”. This refers to the thickness of the slice. For this dish to work, you’ll want them sliced approximately 1/4″ thick. Finely dice the pancetta, then add to a large skillet. Fry the pancetta over medium heat, or until the pieces begin to crisp up. For the peas, you can use fresh or frozen. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the peas and cook until they’re tender yet still a bright green. Drain, then add the peas to the pan. Stir a few times to ensure that the peas are coated with the pancetta drippings. Taste for salt and pepper, then serve at once. In the picture below, I also added a drizzle of extra-virgin oil, but that’s just gilding the lily as far as I’m concerned.
Peas with pancetta