Our friends Wayne and Emilie are the ultimate foodies. They are epicureans dedicated to locally sourced, sustainable, and organic food. They recently returned to LA after revamping their family farm in South Carolina, where they raised heritage pigs, chickens, goats and veggies galore. So you can imagine my excitement when they came over with a huge slab of homemade pancetta for us.
Pancetta is salt-cured Italian bacon and adds enormous depth of flavor to pasta, soups, sauces and more. Bacon is commonly paired with hearty greens, so I used the pancetta with Swiss chard from the farmers’ market. I’m also excited to share a recipe I make all the time: Nancy Silverton’s Umbrian Lentils with Olive Oil Fried eggs. This is a truly Italian dish, with simple ingredients and bold flavors. We eat this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Sauteed Swiss Chard with Pancetta
2 tblsp finely chopped pancetta
1 tblsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch Swiss chard or other greens, stems removed and chopped, leafy tops thinly sliced crosswise
1 tblsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and pancetta, cook until fat has rendered, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add onions to pan and cook 3 minutes. Add the chopped stems of the chard and cook another 3 minutes. Add chard, season with salt and pepper. Toss with tongs until wilted. If the pan is very dry, add a 1/4 cup of chicken stock or water. Cook until greens are tender, approximately 8 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with red wine vinegar.
Umbrian Lentils with Olive Oil Fried Eggs
2 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
2 oz pancetta, finely cubed
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
1 small celery rib, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 lb Umbrian Lentils or green lentils (1 1/4 cups)
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
salt and fresh found black pepper
4 large eggs
handful of arugula or baby spinach
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and aged Balsamic vinegar, for serving
1. In a saucepan, heat the 2 tblsp of oil, add the pancetta and cook over medium heat until the fat has rendered.
2. In a food processor, finely chop the carrot and celery. Add the vegetables to the saucepan along with the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir over moderately high heat until shiny, 1 minute. Add the lentils and 2 1/2 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat , stirring occasionally, until most of the broth has been absorbed, 25 minutes. Add 1 more cup of the broth and continue simmering until absorbed, 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup broth and simmer until lentils are tender and suspended in a creamy sauce, 5 to ten minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In a large non-stick skillet, heat a thin film of olive oil. Crack the eggs into the skillet, season with salt and cook over moderately high heat until the edges are golden. Spoon the lentils into shallow bowls and top with eggs and arugula or spinach. Grate the cheese over the eggs and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.