ancetta, also called “Italian bacon,” has a sweet, savory taste unlike the smokier flavor of bacon and this seasoned cut of pork is the absolute perfect complement to salads. Pancetta also lends considerable flavor to dishes like soups, sauces, risottos, and pasta.
Various regions of Italy produce their own special varieties of pancetta using different spices but it is most commonly cured with salt and spices like ground red pepper. You can purchase pancetta at the deli in slices, sliced in packages, or in whole rolls that can be sliced, chopped, or used as needed.
Pancetta will keep in the refrigerator for up to two to three weeks or in the freezer for as long as six months if it is wrapped tightly.
If a recipe calls for pancetta but you do not have any handy, you can substitute slices of fatty prosciutto or even un-smoked, lean slices of bacon. The taste will be a bit different but similar enough that the end results are just as good.
Although ideal for flavoring salads, you can also use pancetta on top of pizzas along with vegetables like roasted red bell peppers and plenty of fontina cheese.
Thinly sliced, sauteed pancetta is equally delicious on sandwiches and when mixed with warm green beans or chopped and used in salads with Bibb lettuce, toasted walnuts, and Anjou pears.
Green Bean and Pancetta Salad Recipe
What You Need
- 3 medium sized ripe tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 pound pancetta, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 pound of fresh green beans, ends trimmed, strings removed, halved
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
How to Make It
Slice the tomatoes in half and gently remove the seeds and squeeze out the majority of the juice. Chop the tomato halves into 1 inch sized pieces then set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the sherry vinegar and the honey and mix well. Set aside.
Preheat a large pan over medium heat then add the sliced pancetta in a single layer. Cook until crisp and golden brown then place on paper towels to drain.
Leave about a tablespoon of fat in the pan discarding the rest. Add the olive oil to the pan and set aside.
Chop the cooked pancetta.
Cook the trimmed and halved green beans in a pot of salted, boiling water for about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain the beans and place them in a large bowl with the chopped tomatoes.
Heat the pan with the pancetta fat and olive oil over medium heat then add in the honey and vinegar mixture with a whisk. Increase the heat as you whisk the mixture until it boils.
Pour the hot dressing over the bean and tomato mixture then season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Add the chopped pancetta to the salad and toss.
Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese atop of the green bean and pancetta salad just before serving.
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