Pasta Sfoglia con Zucca, Lenticchie & Pancetta
Zucchini, Lentil & Bacon Pastries
I came up with this idea, trying to think of something nice to make for New Years Eve. I will be celebrating in Sicily with my parents and sisters and thought it might be nice to do something different and fun using traditional ingredients. And the tradition in Italy is to have at least one lentil dish for New Year, as the lentils used to symbolize coins in the old days and therefore bring good fortune and wealth in the new year. Well I am not sure about that- but they do make for a nice dish or two on the 31'st!
I prepared the lentils by boiling them, together with finely diced carrots and celery for 30 minutes, in just enough water to cover them. After around 15 minutes, the water had reduced some, so I added a tablespoon of tomato paste and topped it up again- using boiling water, so as to not slow down the cooking. I seasoned the lentils with salt, pepper, a little crushed garlic, thyme, chili and a leaf of bay. I let them finish cooking at a low simmer whilst I prepared the other ingredients...
The zucchini, was one of those small, round ones. I cut 3 nice slices from one and popped them into a hot, dry non-stick frying pan with a little salt. There is no need for oil, as the zucchini will soon start to give off it's own moisture and will begin to cook in it's own juices. This way, it will be pre-cooked, so that it only needs to be re-heated in the oven later and also the flavor of course intensifies if you reduce the moisture and do not add other ingredients. I kept flipping it for 5-6 minutes until it began to soften...
By which time of course the lentils were ready, the liquid evaporated and also tasting intense and wonderfully aromatic. All that needed to be done now was to put these little treasures together! I took a strip of bacon and wrapped it around my fingers in a loop- it holds together wonderfully, which is handy, as of course the next step is to fill the bacon with lentils, on top of the pre-cooked zucchini slice. Which is tricky, but probably not as difficult as you think! Use a teaspoon and scoop some lentils into the bacon- as soon as you have "enough" in there, it should be a little more stable and less tricky!
I set the prepared bacon-wrapped lentils on top of the zucchini and set that in turn on top of a square of puff pastry and baked it at 180°C for 10-15 minutes until brown. Easy! And delicious! And perfect to be enjoyed hot or cold which should be perfect for the latest night of the year as you may well feel hungry after that midnight champagne!