Giada, How Could We Have Never Met?

I’ve just recently starting watching Giada De Laurentiis and Everything Italian. In fact, I first started watching her just this past week after stumbling on the Weekend Getaway episode when she was up in Santa Barbara (I’ve only been to SB twice now and I’ve yet to really do anything touristy so I’m always open to new ideas and suggestions).

Previously, I just to live by whatever everyone’s gal, Rachael Ray said. But then, she just got a little too much going on and was everywhere and started to get on my nerves a bit. And well, let’s face it, she can be a bit extreme with that exuberant personality of hers. But I have to say, she really taught me to get comfortable in the kitchen and I have her cookbooks to prove it – LOL. And because I feel like I’m in the sharing kind of mood, here’s my go to, non-summer, RR recipe, Mini Meatball Soup – though by now, I just improvise.

Nowadays though, I’m spending some time getting to know Giada and letting her teach me a few new tricks in the kitchen. She really has some simple, easy recipes with minimal ingredients. She’s mind kind of gal too, she loves her cheese! I’m not so sure how she can manage to keep her clothes so spot-free without an apron, but whatever.

Really how good does this, Caramelized Pancetta and Fennel Salad sound? I’m always looking for new simple, yet tasty salad ideas and the simpler, the better. I think this would be just perfect for book club or a potluck.

Caramelized Pancetta and Fennel Salad

Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
User Rating: 5 Stars

1 bulb fennel, halved and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
5 slices pancetta
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces (about 6 to 7 cups) mixed salad greens
Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, toss together fennel, pancetta, garlic, brown sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the ingredients on the baking sheet in a single layer. Cook until the pancetta is crisp and the fennel is caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, place the salad greens, crumbled pancetta, and caramelized fennel. Toss the salad with the Red Wine Vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Yield: scant 1/2 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes

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