Recipe: Warm Potato Salad with Pancetta, Mustard, and Pistachios
Improvvisata. In terms of Italian cooking, this can mean a number of things, from the highest creative impulse to just using up what you’ve got in your pantry to its best advantage. In the case of this potato salad, I mean the later. I had pistachios left over from my last blog, which featured a Sicilian nut pesto. Little red potatoes were sitting there in their mesh bag. And I ask you, what goyl can go a day without knowing she’s got a nice lump of pork fat in the frig, so I always have pancetta. I gathered a few stems of fresh herbs from the depths of my vegetable bin, considered the rosemary, scrapped it, and settled on thyme instead. A little mustard, some good olive oil. I had a lemon and a small shallot.
Try this sometime, or your own version of it. It’s got lots of flavor. I served it with orange roughy fillets fried in olive oil and served with lemon. But with barbecued chicken? Could be even better.
Warm Potato Salad with Pancetta, Mustard, and Pistachios
(Serves 4 as a side dish)
About 15 baby red-skin potatoes
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 heaping teaspoon coarse-grain mustard
The juice of 1 small lemon (maybe a little less)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for sautéing
Freshly ground black pepper
About 10 thyme sprigs, the leaves lightly chopped
1 small shallot, very thinly sliced
A handful of unsalted, shelled pistachios
1 approximately ¼-inch-thick piece of pancetta, cut into small cubes
Place the potatoes in a pot of cool water, covering them with about 3 inches of water. Add salt, and turn on the heat to high. Simmer until just tender, about 8 minutes or so. Drain, and cut them in half.
Place the potatoes in a large shallow serving bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the white wine, mustard, lemon, and olive oil. Season with a little salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Pour this over the hot potatoes, and toss gently with your fingers (which will prevent breaking up the potatoes). Add the thyme, shallot, and pistachios, and toss again, very gently.
Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil onto a medium skillet, and put it on medium heat. When hot, add the pancetta, and let it get nice and crisp. Scoop the pancetta out with a slotted spoon, and add it to the potatoes. Spoon on about a teaspoon of the pancetta cooking fat, and toss. Serve warm.