This is the second recipe we have tried out of Italian Country Cooking: The Secrets of Cucina Povera and it was much more successful than the first! The rosemary is really the secret ingredient for this dish. Its subtle sweetness just infuses the whole dish. If I made it again, I would use a different shaped pasta, like orecchiette or some other shape that could catch all the lentils. With the linguine, it was difficult to get all the components on the fork at the same time. I used whole wheat pasta, too, because I thought the earthiness of the lentils would work well with the earthiness of the whole wheat. And it did!
Linguine with Lentils and Pancetta
Adapted from Italian Country Cooking: The Secrets of Cucina Povera
1 cup French green lentils
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, cut into slivers
2 stalks celery, diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 pound whole wheat linguine (or other shape of your choice)
generous handful of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1. Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with about 2 inches of water. Add salt and cover the pan. Bring to a gentle boil, then set the lid at an angle and reduce heat to low. Gently simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and set the lentils aside in their liquid.
2. Combine the oil and pancetta in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the pancetta is golden and crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
3. Add the celery to the pan and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary to the pan and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Drain the lentils and add to the celery mixture with the wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Check seasoning.
4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the lentil mixture and toss to combine. Remove from the heat and toss with the parsley and pancetta. Add a little cooking water if it is too dry.