pasta BLT

          one of the most rewarding creative jobs in the kitchen is developing a signature dish. sometimes, it's a recipe i invent, other times i might find a recipe but alter it to make it my own. this pasta BLT is a dish i've been nurturing for the last three or four weeks, ever since i offered to host my family's new year's brunch. i want to serve something more elegant than breakfast food, and something with a twist on a blt–since bacon makes everyone so happy. 
          so this is what i came up with. i've made it twice so far, and this past sunday i got the thumbs up from jim, and our brew-master friend, david, who joined us for a taste testing. i cut the pasta into paper thin rounds to mirror the shape of the pancetta. it came out exactly as i envisioned it: an italian version of a BLT.
ingredients - makes 4 servings

• 20 thin slices of pancetta
• 12 stalks of romaine lettuce
• 12 large pasta rounds (recipe below)
• 12 roasted roma tomato pieces
• balsamic vinegar
• olive oil
• fresh chopped parsley
• parmesan cheese
• 2/3 cup of ricotta
• salt and fresh cracked pepper
1. coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil on med. flame. lay the pancetta around the pan, and gently saute, turning several times, until crispy and browned. drain on a paper towel.

2. cut the bottom off of the romaine lettuce and stack several pieces, lining up the ribs.
3. half the ribs of romaine lengthwise and then turn the stacks to cut the lengths into 1" pieces. wash the cut romaine well in the salad spinner and drain.
4. put all of the lettuce into a large salad bowl.
5. sprinkle some balsamic vinegar onto it, along with some chopped parsley, drizzle with olive oil, and crack some pepper over it. then, dust it with a little parmesan cheese, add the ricotta, and toss again.
6. line the bottom of each plate with 1/4 of the salad, and lay on 3 of the pasta rounds.
7. tuck the cooked pancetta and the roasted tomatoes into the pasta rounds, and top with a little of the ricotta, and serve.

pasta rounds

• 1 egg
• a few tbl. olive oil
• a few tbl. dried oregano
• about a scant 1/4 cup semolina flour
• enough all-purpose flour to knead a soft dough
1. beat the eggs, olive oil, and oregano in a med. mixing bowl with a whisk.
2. add the semolina flour and mix with a fork.
3. start adding the all-purpose flour a little at a time until you can form a ball that is not too sticky.
4. turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead to a soft, firm ball. (add a dusting of flour, a little at a time to reach the right consistency).
5. cover with plastic wrap and let it rest about an hour.
6. set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
7. roll the dough out on a lightly floured counter as thin as you can make it.
8. dust both sides of the rolled out sheet of pasta with flour, and use a large biscuit cutter to cut out rounds of pasta.
9. add a pinch of salt to the boiling water and drop in the pasta rounds. once the water comes back up to a boil, count out 10 seconds and remove the pasta with a large wire strainer or slotted spoon to a big plate. drizzle the pasta with olive oil and let it cool completely. then separate and straighten out any wrinkles.

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