A few weeks ago T. came along on my weekly shop, I find grocery shopping really highlights how differently we shop. He likes to graze picking up whatever catches his eye, I like to shop with precision, this is true from a grocery store, to a shoe store, to a drug store. With grocery shopping (honestly with most shopping) I have a list and I don’t like to deviate from it, because you just end up with waste or cans that sit in your cupboard forever. As I working my way through the store and my list, T. comes back with a box a large shells – “these look fun, you should make something with them”. Yes dear…
Well delicious magazine never lets me down, about a week of the shells sitting in my cupboard they posted a link for their recipe courgette, broad bean and pancetta pasta in a creamy cheese sauce on twitter. Thanks for sharing this yummy dish! But like all good things I needed to make a few tweaks to make it my own.
First up was the choice of meat, my butcher had both fresh guanciale and pancetta. I thought a little bit about sticking with the pancetta, but my love of guanciale won out. Plus I thought the texture and flavor of guanciale would suit this dish better than pancetta. It could be just me but I find pancetta can become almost tough when baked. If you’ve never had guanciale you are missing out. I was first introduce when T. and I were in Rome in a carbonara dish that I still dream about. I’ve heard it referred to as the magical Roman bacon. It can be very hard to find but if you ever come across it do yourself a favor and buy it!! You won’t regret it. I also included in a chicken dish this past weekend and my guests were huge fans!!
Now to prepping of this dish… Spring produce, fresh and local, love it! This picture doesn’t really do justice to this zucchini. It was massive.
I decided to cook the guanciale whole and then slicing it, since I was going to be saving some for another dish and wanted to keep the meat together. It only needs to be cook for a few minutes before cubing and returning to the pan to mix with the vegetables.
Shells stuffed, topped with cheese sauce and ready for the oven.
A bit messy on the plate but so tasty and a wonderful cozy Friday evening meal with a nice glass of white wine. This recipe for zucchini, broad bean (may also be called fava beans) and guanciale stuffed pasta shells in a cheesy sauce is the best of spring produce with the comforts of a cheesy pasta dish.
- 1 large zucchini, grated
- 100 grams guanciale, cubed
- 200 grams broad (fava) beans
- 1 box jumbo pasta shells
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- ¼ cup parmesan, grated
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In a large pot boil salted water. Cook pasta shells according to the directions on the box. Approximately 12 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook the broad beans in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes, then drain and refresh in cold water. Once cool, slip the beans out of their outer skins.
- Coarsely grate zucchini, sprinkle with salt and leave for 10 minutes, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Once melted add flour to create a roux. Cook flour for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add milk, whisking as you add. Reduce heat, add bay leaf and allow to simmer till thickened. Heat from heat and whisk in cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and fry the guanciale for 2-3 minutes, then add the zucchini and fry for 5 minutes. Add the broad beans and cook for another minute. Stuff the zucchini and pancetta mixture into the shells and put in an ovenproof dish.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes.
Those who know me are probably thinking really white wine?? I am not a fan of white wine! At all. But recently at a wine tasting I was introduced to the assyrtiko grape – a native grape of Greece. The Domaine Sigalas Assyriko-Athiri was actually featured on thekitchn.com as a wine of the week this past February. The grapes are native to Santorini and are very earthy due to the volcanic ash that is present in the soil. It was very dry, crisp and clean with a smoky aroma that you don’t expect from a white wine but was balanced very well with peppery fruit palate. While you probably walk past the Greek section of your local liquor store (if they even have one) I would highly recommend this wine. Changed my mind on white wine!