Mar 9, 2018

Spring Comes Early in My Plate - Casarecce with Pancetta and Chanterelle

To be honest, I wasn't even thinking about incorporating flowers into this pasta dish. It's just that all these pretty looking flowers down the grocery aisle were too tempting. Why should I grab that same old box of herbs again, why not just skip dill or sage and swap out with colorful nasturtium this time?

So here is it, spring came early to my plate. 

Colorful casarecce pasta with pancetta and chanterelle - 

Ingredients (for 4 to 5 portions)?

  • 17.6 oz/1 box casarecce (can be substitute with similar pasta such as penne or gemelli) 
  • 30 grams dried chanterelle
  • 300 grams chicken tender
  • 250 grams pancetta (can be substitute with thick-cut bacon)
  • 100 grams brussels sprouts
  • 1 small box cremini mushroom (I couldn't find it so substituted with other brown mushroom)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 small bundle nasturtium
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mixed Italian herbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper


I was going to use two types of dried mushrooms but was shocked when seeing the price tag for dried morel mushrooms. But there's always a way to go around it, I keep the much more friendly dried chanterelle and paired with one other fresh brown mushroom for the recipe.

Transfer the dried chanterelle to a colander and rinse with cold water. Then transfer the mushroom to a bowl and soak with warm water for 15 to 20 minutes. Take out the mushroom and set aside for later use. As for the liquid, you can always reserve it for making stock or other recipes later on.

Peel and dice the onion. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Halve brussels sprouts. 

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and generously salt the water. Once boiling, cook the pasta till nearly al dente. Drain and ready to add to the sauce mixture. Slice the tomato in half and remove the pulps, cut the tomato into smaller cubes. Cut the fresh mushroom into smaller pieces. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Cube the pancetta.

Finely chop the stems of the nasturtium. Save the whole flower as edible garnish right before serving. The nasturtium stem tastes a little spicy, somewhat similar to wasabi or horseradish, pretty interesting flavor profile. That distinct taste will mellow out with other seasonings. 

Drizzle some oil and add the pancetta along with some black pepper to a big pan. Turn to medium high heat and cook till some fats start to render. 

Add in onion and garlic, along with 1 teaspoon of salt and some more black pepper if desired. Sear till the onion turns translucent or slightly browned on the edges.

Transfer halved brussels sprouts over and cook till slightly colored using high heat. Add the chicken and sear for another 1 minute, lower the heat a little here if needed. 

Now transfer finely chopped flower stems over along with dried Italian herbs, both mushroom, tomato, and balsamic vinegar. Add one extra teaspoon of salt here too. Mix and cook for about one minute. 

Mix in cooked pasta. Cook till casarecce turns al dente. Taste and adjust with salt if needed.

Plate the pasta and garnish with pretty looking flowers. Remember to tell your guests or family that these nasturtiums are edible too!

Using edible flowers in savory dishes seems pretty fun and pleasing to the eye too. I'm hooked with all the colorful flower varieties, stay tuned for more floral dishes in the future. It's gonna be a full bloom in my plate. 

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