Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Spinach Pici With Pancetta, Tomatoes and Artichokes...

Food Revolution Toronto is holding a fun contest underway this month of November. Cook up a plate of Jamie Oliver's made-from-scratch Spinach Pici Pasta from #FamilySuperFood for your chance to win one of five Jamie Oliver cookbooks. You have until Wednesday November 30th 2016 to submit a photo of the version you/your family cooked and share it on social media using the hashtag #CookwithFoodRevTO or at @FoodRevToronto on Twitter or Instagram-- and you'll be entered to win a cookbook! Please see contest rules.

Tonight in this spirit, my three boys helped to create our customized spinach pici for a most delicious Italian-inspired dinner. I told them we were making our own homemade pasta, and their faces lit up with delight. Such a cinch to do with just two-ingredients and loaded with spinach nutrition. Pici is a thick, hand rolled pasta, similar to fat spaghetti usually made from just flour and water and cooks up with a pleasant chew. The result with fresh spinach mixed in the dough resemble that of green beans. The final dish full of vibrant colour and tasty flavours was just as enjoyable to eat as it was making it together. 

Spinach Pici With Pancetta, Tomatoes and Artichokes

The dough has a playdough consistency making it fun to get your kids involved.

To make the Spinach Pici:
Makes about 4 cups to serve 4 to 6

4 cups baby spinach or regular spinach, washed and chopped
2-1/2 cups plain or all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

In a food processor, blitz the spinach and flour until a ball of dough forms, letting the machine do all the work. Touch the dough – it shouldn’t be sticky, you want a playdough consistency, so add if needed, a bit or water (if too dry) or a little more flour (if wet). To make the pici, simply tear off 2 cm balls of dough and roll them out into long thin sausage shapes – think fine green beans – on a clean surface (the beauty is that they’re all different, so get little helpers involved, if you can). Cook the pici straight away, or leave them to dry out for a few hours, or even overnight (read on for more details).

Measuring flour and spinach to get ready for the food processor.

Blitz the mixture until a ball of dough forms, adding water if needed. 

It's pasta-making time! My kids loved working with the green dough-- pulling apart pieces, rolling, shaping, adding water when needed to create many, many perfect imperfect pici.

Take a small 2 cm ball of dough and roll into a very thin sausage. You can also roll it long and thin, and pinch off the tube in about 2-1/2 to 3-inch pieces.

Another technique I discovered was to take very small pieces of dough and rub it back and forth rapidly in the palms of your hands. This creates individual pici that tends to taper at the end that looks just like green beans. Cute!

Spinach Pici With Pancetta, Tomatoes and Artichokes

4 cups prepared spinach pici (as above)
125 g pancetta (Italian-style bacon), diced 
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts (quartered), drained
Grated parmesan cheese, or freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano
chopped basil leaves
jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
lemon for splashing

Pancetta releases a lot of fat during cooking. Olive oil is not required.

Add the pici to a pot of boiling salted water. If it’s freshly rolled, cook about five minutes, but if you’ve let it dry give it 8 to 10 minutes, checking to make sure you get al dente pasta. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water.

YUM-- what lovely bright Italian ingredients!

Sauté pancetta in a skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Use a slotted spoon and remove pancetta into a bowl. Drain fat, keeping three Tbsp. in skillet. Add garlic and tomatoes; cook for about one minute. Add artichokes and spinach, toss then stir in spinach pici and reserved pasta cooking water. You can add some Parmesan cheese to create an emulsified sauce with the oil and water, otherwise leave the cheese for garnishing at the table. Cook another minute until heated through. 

How beautiful, vibrant and full of mouth-watering Italian flavours! 

Served with toasted baguette slices!

My kids were excited to tell their dad how they accomplished making pasta for the first time. They were all over the pasta's chewy taste and thought the overall flavours was just delicious! I can see this easily becoming a family favourite! I find when my kids are involved the cooking process they were more likely to eat and enjoy it. And this can be a superb way to motivate fussy eaters to try new tastes and gain confidence with a variety of foods. I highly recommend giving this recipe a whirl with your family!

So what are you waiting for? I hope you give this fun recipe a try-- make is as simple or elaborate as you wish using your favourite ingredients. Snap your food photo and enter it in our contest cookbook giveaway

Buon Appetito and Good luck!

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