I’ve found my new summer pasta dish to obsess over. Winter’s carbonara gave way to sausage and spinach, which turned to spring’s asparagus and ham and cream, which has now ceded supremacy to tomatoes, ricotta, and guanciale (pig’s jowl). I mentioned this combo in my post about the Oyster Club in Mystic, Connecticut and now I’ve recreated it at home. I suspect that the chef who came up with this didn’t actually cook the guanciale, but I did.
This serves three: Saute 6 thin slices of the guanciale, chopped, until the fat renders and the meat is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add a chopped clove of garlic and after a minute add a pint of mixed cherry tomatoes, halved. After 2 minutes add your pasta and a splash of the salty pasta water. (I made fresh pasta because, well, it’s the weekend.) Move the pan off the heat and stir in 1/2 a pint of fresh ricotta. After serving I salted each bowl and gave them a heavy dose of ground grains of paradise. This suggestion for a pepper substitute came from that lame Amanda Hesser book I read recently. Grains of paradise come from Africa, are actually related to ginger, and the flavor is a little spicy and a little herbal. I get hints of lemon verbena and I’m enjoying it on my regular lunch of tomatoes and cottage cheese.