I haven’t posted many recipes on the blog this summer, with good reasons. First of all, we are hardly ever at home. And then when we are at home, I have to devote some amount of brainpower to feeding our tiny roommate. Once I’ve figured out how to steam carrots into oblivion, I have virtually no inspiration – or motivation – left for new, interesting things to cook. Spending time browsing the internet for new recipes? Haha. That’s time I could be using to do laundry so I can re-pack my suitcase.
And so today’s post doesn’t have a recipe to follow, nor was it meticulously planned in advance. It came about because I found this Trader Joe’s cubed pancetta buried in my freezer:
Note the sell-by date. Yeah.
I cooked it anyway.
It’d have been perfect in my favorite soup if I’d thought to use it, oh, six months ago. But as it is eleventy billion degrees outside, I decided to make a summery pasta instead. What’s summery? Well, lemons. What uses lemons and salted pork? Why, chicken saltimbocca!
And so, I set out to make a saltimbocca-inspired pasta. I do realize that pancetta is different from prosciutto, which is traditionally used in saltimbocca. But hey, saltimbocca traditionally uses veal, not chicken. We’re all over the place here, hence “inspired”. The fact that I was inspired at all to clean out my freezer and make something with what I found is good enough for me!
Since the meat in saltimbocca is lightly breaded, I tossed some cubed chicken breast with cornstarch, flour, and salt before frying it in the pancetta drippings.
Because this was a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants pantry meal, I chose my own random pasta shape for this dish. This fun campanelle pasta was in my pantry:
But what really made this saltimbocca was the pasta sauce, which like everything else, was composed mostly of items on hand. I started by browning a LOT of minced garlic and onion in two tablespoons of butter:
As opposed to “some”.
Then I added one lemon’s worth of zest:
And juiced the lemon directly into the pan. No worries, I fished the seeds out!
The rest of the sauce was equal parts chicken broth and white wine, plus parsley, dried sage (another necessary component of saltimbocca!), and black and red pepper. I could’ve added capers, but I forgot. How authentic is this? Not very. But it seemed tasty!
To thicken it up a bit, I added my usual cornstarch-water mixture over low heat.
I let the sauce simmer a bit over low heat, then added it to the cooked pasta, along with the chicken and pancetta.
Once it was stirred together, I had a savory, lemony pasta perfect for low-brainpower summer nights!
Even though this wasn’t any harder than other standby summer-travel meals, it was nice to break the monotony of spaghetti-tacos-Chinese that we’ve been living (when home, that is). Maybe I should clean out my freezer and make dinner with the result more often?! Now that we’re traveling less, maybe I can!