If you follow me on IG, you know this is the only spot in my kitchen with decent natural light.

This category of cucina lockdown hasn’t been updated for some weeks, despite having promised updating it regularly with recipes. In a strange way, I feel the term quarantine cooking is dated or passed. Perhaps I’ve oddly adapted and feel this is life for now on as we know it. I miss Florence and have no idea when it will be safe to return. I understand shelter-in-place measures are necessary and we need to follow the warnings of experts on how to safely- and slowly- re-open. I look forward to the day lockdown cooking is over as much as the next person. But for now, I’ll continue to do so for as long as it takes.

Yes dying is a fact of life and people die from a variety of causes, but to me as common sense logic would deduce is this is a new deadly virus (significantly adding to the load of annual death toll numbers in a matter of months) which the world wasn’t immediately prepared for. Restrictions and such are necessary not only to save lives (big deal here), but to give the world time to be better equipped and flatten the curve- and to keep it flat.

I’ve only experienced knowing someone who has died on a few occasions by this point in my life. I found some solace knowing they were surrounded by the people who loved them in their final moments. I cannot imagine myself or anyone dying alone in an overrun hospital lacking medical equipment while staffed by strained medical workers sickened and battered.

I resent the soapboxy righteousness tone in this post. While I am okay, the entire crisis has been a massive stress trigger. My line of work will not rebound for a year or longer. Our lives have shattered to smithereens- even more so for those of us not sitting on luck or privilege. A pandemic is something I never dreamed would be a risk to my livelihood.

Like many, I’m working tirelessly to figure things out. I won’t pretend this period doesn’t suck. But I would never want to “re-open” without some sort of staggered phase plan, ESPECIALLY if doing so meant another tidal wave of vulnerable people loosing their lives in horrible, lonely conditions and medical workers under torturous pressure. My heart goes out to anyone affected and impacted. I hope this ends with caution and the least amount of suffering possible.

I couldn’t proceed with this post (yay let’s cook and pretend like the world hasn’t fallen apart!) without being honest and addressing the elephant haunting many of our psyches.

So now I’ve written what I felt needed to be said- here’s your goddamn recipe, internet.

This one I kinda did on the fly. I saw fresh peas at the farmer’s market and I had a bit of tomato and guanciale in the fridge from a recent amatriciana kick I got on.

Here I present you: Pasta with tomato guanciale and peas! It was delish!

Ingredients, serves 2 (sorry in advance- I oscillate between grams and American measurements)

  • 150-200 grams of long pasta (bucatini, spaghetti, tagliatelle, whatev really)
  • 50 grams (2oz) of guanciale/pork jowl (find guanciale- I did this once with pancetta and it was just OK)
  • a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • enough tinned/jarred tomato passata/puree to cover the pan (start with 2 ounces/50gr, then add more if needed)
  • 1 pound of fresh spring peas with pod, shuck peas (not sure how much the shucked part should weigh)
  • Teaspoon (more or less) of dried chili flake
  • Optional: garlic and/or shallot/half a diced onion. I used 1 clove of garlic. Italian food police come at me!
  • High quality parmigiano-reggiano or aged pecorino (like from our Florence Food Club)
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Directions: Shuck your whole pea pods in a bowl.

Slice guanciale in short med-thick sliver sticks. Add guanciale to a warm pan over med-high heat but stir to not burn. Once there are some crispy bits, take out so they don’t burn to a crisp. (A little trick I learned via Sophie Minchilli one of my fellow food tour friends in Rome) Leave behind whatever guanciale bits haven’t cooked up or browned.

smokey, amazing cured pork jowl guanciale

Add optional sliced garlic and some chili flakes then add sliced cherry tomatoes and the tomato pure. I am a fat addict, so I add a little olive oil at the garlic step and also finish with a little olive oil. But I know for Italian food purists, that’s a little overboard.

Most recipes call for canned whole tomatoes but I had some cherry tomatoes I needed to use and had a bit of passata left in the fridge- I liked it! Cook for a few minutes until fresh tomatoes cook down.

Then add the peas and cook for 5 minutes all together, and at the last minute add back in the crispy guanciale pieces you took out. I may have overcooked the peas but it’s okay. Shave a minute off for safe measure! Salt and pepper to taste.

The pasta looks weird because I’m still on a low-carb diet (Italian food police- come at me!) so these noodles are made from soy flour and I swear they are the most convincing ones available. Also the lighting is bad because I cook/eat at Italian times (after dark)
Forced myself to save leftovers so I could take a better pic during the day

Toss with cooked pasta and shower in parmigiano-reggiano, aged Tuscan pecorino or pecorino romano and a crackling of fresh pepper.

Wine pairing suggestion: a medium bodied red like Rosso Piceno from Le Marche. For more pasta and wine pairing tips, sign up for this online culinary class led by one of our sommelier guides in Florence!

In your quarantine cooking trust,

Curious Appetite

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