For years, “organic” has been a buzzword among foodies. But how about “local”? The reasons for eating locally grown food are numerous: supporting the area’s economy, meeting the growers face-to-face, and enjoying fresher-than-supermarket tastes. In a 2007 Time Magazine article called “Eating Better Than Organic,” writer John Cloud pointed out, “It makes sense that a snow pea grown by a local farmer and never refrigerated will retain more of its delicate leguminous flavor than one shipped in a frigid plane from Guatemala.”
Within a 20-mile radius of Evansville, opportunities abound to purchase fresh, locally grown ingredients. One booth I frequent at the Downtown Farmers’ Market belongs to Joe Engelbrecht Fourth Generation Orchard. Engelbrecht sells wonderfully ripe, juicy peaches and vegetables including heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and squash.
The Evansville area also has a few specialty food shops, and I recently discovered Vecchio’s Italian Market and Delicatessen in Newburgh. What most impresses me is the array of meats and cheeses that employees slice by hand and let customers sample. The peppery pancetta (a dry, cured meat) I purchased from Vecchio’s beautifully contrasts with the sweet, caramelized peaches in this recipe. Made entirely from locally sourced goods, this dish is perfect for a summer barbecue.
— Eli Haddix of McCutchanville has worked in the restaurant business for 12 years.
Pancetta Peach Pasta
1/2 pound pancetta 1/4 inch thick, cubed
1 pound whole-wheat pasta (Pancetta and pasta purchased from Vecchio’s in Newburgh)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons raw honey (Oil and honey purchased at River City Food Co-op)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 red onion, minced
4 ounces baby spinach
6 medium peaches, cut into wedges (purchased from Joe Engelbrecht Fourth Generation Orchard)
1 bunch cilantro
(All other produce purchased at the Downtown Farmers’ Market)
Heat a medium skillet, preheat the grill, and boil water for pasta. (Add about a tablespoon of salt to the pasta water.) Cook pasta according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, place the cubed pancetta into the skillet and begin to render the fat. Once the pancetta begins to crisp, add olive oil, bell pepper, and onion. Simmer over low heat for five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally.
Brush the peach wedges with melted butter and grill three minutes per side until firm and warm. Drain the pasta and toss it in the skillet after turning off the heat, gently folding in spinach and cilantro. Drizzle with honey and lightly sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over pasta. Serve topped with grilled peaches.