My Chef's Hat - Orecchiette With Pancetta, Peas And Fresh Herbs

A couple weeks ago I was at Lowe's.  I've gotten good at not killing my basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley, so I was looking for some new herbs to try.  So I branched out and bought some sage and mint.  I'm really not sure why, because I've never bought or cooked with either before.  But I figured if I bought them, it would force me to use them.  

Flash forward to today, and I have yet to use either.  The good thing is, they're still alive. Actually, since it's literally rained almost every day for the past month, they are thriving. 

I posted a picture on my Facebook page of the mint about an hour ago, and no big surprise, my first thought was making mojitos and mint juleps. But then I thought more, got on Pinterest, and looked for recipes using mint.  I figured there had to be something I wanted to make with it.  And besides, I was getting really hungry.  I was already planning to make pesto because some of my basil plants are going nuts too. This is one of my 3 pots, and these are after I took off about 20 leaves for the pesto!

Of course, Pinterest came to the rescue.  Actually I found a bunch of recipes where I can use the mint and sage.  For today's lunch, I went with orecchiette with pancetta, peas and fresh herbs.  

Here is the recipe photo

And here is my version

I was almost out of orecchiette, so I went with fusilli corti bucati.  It's one of my favorite pasta shapes, and I knew the corkscrews would hold the pesto really well. I also didn't have pancetta, so I used bacon.  Which worked out because I had bought bacon the other day and needed to portion it out and freeze it.  I didn't add cheese since that's already in the pesto.  I also roasted a head of garlic.  Roasted garlic is so much sweeter than raw. You can really almost eat it by itself.  Almost.

This dish was excellent.  All of those flavors worked really, really well together.  I was worried the mint might be overpowering, but it wasn't at all.  I'm not sure if I put too much or not enough according to the recipe, but for me it was just right.  

I will most definitely be making this dish again.  Next time I will try it with pancetta and see which I like better.  And I will always make it with pesto for more flavor.  And add more veggies like asparagus, mushrooms, and snow peas.  

Recipe found on Food & Wine

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