For some reason I was expecting this dish to be fairly plain and understated in the flavour department but that turned out to be emphatically not the case. Nigella, as always, sums it up perfectly...
"This may be an off-the-cuff standby but it really sings for our supper. The salt of the bacon, whichever way you cut it, is balanced fruitily by the sweet softness of the charred peppers. Against the fire of the chilli, there is the bright freshness of lemon...."
I really enjoyed this and, as suggested above, it uses ingredients that I keep in my store cupboard or fridge most of the time so it's perfect for those evenings when you're lacking in inspiration. (If parsley isn't something you always have to hand then not to worry - this dish will work just as well without it).
Pasta with Pancetta, Parsley and Peppers
(adapted from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson)
1 teaspoon garlic oil
1 x 140g packet pancetta cubes or 1 x 200g packet smoked lardons (or approx 150g streaky bacon, snipped)
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 x 15ml tablespoons cold water
190g (drained weight) chargrilled or flame-roasted peppers, from a jar
20g (supermarket bunch) parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1) Put a big pot of water on to boil for the pasta
2) Heat the oil in a medium-sized heavy-based pan (one you can toss the cooked pasta into later). Fry the pancetta cubes or lardons (or bacon) until they start to crisp, then add the dried chilli, grated lemon zest and juice, and 2 tablespoons of water.
3) Let this mixture bubble for a minute. Scissor the drained peppers (still in their colander) into bite-sized pieces, then add these to the pan with half the chopped parsley.
4) Salt the pasta water once it is boiling and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Fish out a small cupful of pasta water just before you drain it. When the pasta is cooked, drain loosely and tip into the waiting pan of sauce.
5) Toss everything together well, and add more pasta water if you need it, then season and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.
Serves 2, generously