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Pasta with broccoli and speck

Posted in Food & Entertaining

After meandering from store to store in downtown LA’s Arts District, my sister and I found ourselves considerably hungry. I enumerated all the nearby places we could eat at: a Californian cafe, tacos, sausages, pies but when I mentioned vegan, her face lit up.
“Let’s try vegan”.

Cafe Gratitude, where we ate, does vegan really well and we had a delicious meal during which we weighed the possibility and the difficulties of adopting a vegan diet.

After a pensive silence, I blurted out I would miss prosciutto. And eggs. On the way home, we stopped at an Italian deli, and bought fresh ricotta and speck. There we were, back in the arms of pigs and cows.

Speck is not terribly easy to find here and it is never as good as the one you would eat between two slices of peasant bread, with some Asiago cheese, up in the Alps, where speck hails from.
Speck is like prosciutto – just better. It’s a deboned, flayed-open ham that has been cured, cold-smoked, and dried. Not as fatty as bacon and more delicate in flavor.

Amongst its many applications, adding it to pasta is a way to flavor and make a simple dish more interesting. Which is exactly what we did with pasta and broccoli when we got home.

Speck
  • Start by cutting up some broccoli (or broccoli rabe, even better) and blanch them in a pot of heavy salted water. Drain but reserve the cooking water.
  • Put some olive oil and some garlic in a frying pan and add the broccoli. Let sautee for a few minutes, adding salt and pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a little bit of water which will help make the broccoli rather creamy. Once the broccoli are fully cooked, add a few tablespoons of pecorino cheese and mix everything for about a minute, to let the cheese melt.
  • In the meantime, bring the broccoli cooking water back to boiling and cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, cut small strips of speck.
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the broccoli pan, heating up for a minute and adding the speck strips. Mix everything and serve immediately.

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9 Comments

  1. You know, I would not miss the meats if I attempted vegan. In fact, even living in Italy for 8 years did not turn me onto it despite their vast array of speciality carne. But yes, the eggs would be hell. And probably many other innocent fare I’m not even considering that is part of my daily life. I must have some bad habits. Hope you’re having lovely sister time.

    January 19, 2017
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      You wouldn’t miss dairy? I think I would seriously miss prosciutto, eggs and fish. Don’t care about any other meat really.

      January 19, 2017
      |Reply
      • I would, yes, I would. Cheese more than anything. What would the world be reduced to without cheese? Now that was my corner of Esselunga, rather than the meats….No cheese…Shudder to think.

        January 20, 2017
        |Reply
  2. Un classico, con in più un link tra nord e sud d’Italia 🙂

    January 19, 2017
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Non ci avevo pensato…

      January 19, 2017
      |Reply
  3. winstonmoreton
    winstonmoreton

    Well I should have guessed that speck was Italian in origin. Until I read your post I thought it was a Dutch staple – spek en beetjes (beetroot) met aardappelen (spuds) – a winter dish I’ve enjoyed in Holland. The closest we can get to it in NZ is bacon

    January 19, 2017
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      To be entirely truthful, speck originates from South Tyrol (otherwise known Alto Adige in Italian) one of the two autonomous regions of Italy. It borders Austria and it was annexed sometime at the end of WW1 – its inhabitants still speak a language that is very similar to Germany. Customs and food are also pretty German in nature (South Tyrol borders Austria and Switzerland). It is very different from bacon, way better….make sure you try next time you are in Italy.

      January 19, 2017
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      • Winston Moreton
        Winston Moreton

        I was up there about 5 years ago. I saw several guerra bianca plaques. I remember having rabbit at an inn but it was summer and crowded with German speaking families. So if there’s a next time I’ll def. look for speck and bring some home. It has a long shelf life

        January 19, 2017
        |Reply
        • camparigirl
          camparigirl

          Nobody eats rabbit here but I did grow up on it. My mom used to cook it with black olives. Delicious !

          January 19, 2017
          |Reply

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