I recently moved into a new apartment and I was reminded how moving is, like, just about the worst thing a first world person has to live through on occasion. The packing, the taping, the heaving and hauling (ok, I had movers. But still.), the unpacking, the unpacking, the unpacking… unpacking takes me forever.
But this move I was smart. Instead of letting the unpacking drag on for weeks, I scheduled a small dinner party exactly one week after I moved into my new place. That meant I had to be unpacked 6 days after my move so I could spend the day of the party shopping and cooking. And not just unpacked – I had to be party-presentable.
There were definitely a few times that week that I thought “I am not smart at all. This was my dumbest idea to date.”
But I made a commitment to myself and silently to my guests and, with a lot of help from my mom (hi Mom!), it all came together in the last hours of the days before my dinner party.
All week I had been ruminating on what to make. You have a lot of time to think when you’re unwrapping things that aren’t Christmas presents. I knew I wanted to make chicken because I had a new recipe to try. But no matter how new and how tasty a new chicken recipe is, it’s still just chicken. A little boring, to be honest.
So I needed a really great side dish to show off my culinary creativity.
Then I remembered this recipe for rosemary garlic hasselback zucchinis with bacon. One thing I like about this as a side dish is that it’s BIG. Where most people might have a heap of rice or a big honkin’ lump of mashed potatoes, a zucchini will more than fill that space, so you don’t miss anything on your plate like you might if you just did green beans or something.
And, hey, it’s stuffed with bacon. We all know you could stuff a brown paper bag with bacon and it would probably taste amazing.
Not that this dish would be anything but amazing even without the bacon. The garlic, rosemary, and olive oil lend tons of flavor, which the zucchini carries well. Zucchini is great because it has very little flavor itself – that’s why it can be used in sweet things like zucchini bread or savory things like this dish and still perform amazingly.
I made everything ahead of time and then threw these babies in the oven about 40 minutes before we were ready to eat.
My guests loved them. One friend remarked that she had never been a fan of zucchini, but that this recipe changed her mind. And everyone was impressed with my ability to have my apartment so “together” in one short week! (Another shout out to Mom for that…thanks Mom!)
- 4-5 small (1 ½ pounds) zucchinis, washed
- 5 ounces thin pancetta slices
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh, chopped rosemary or 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In small bowl combine the garlic, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Place each zucchini between 2 chopsticks and slice it into thin slices. Do not cut all the way through the potato. The chopsticks will keep the zucchini bottoms intact.
- Cut the pancetta into bite size pieces. Stuff the pancetta pieces between a few of the cuts of each zucchini. Grease a large cast iron pan with remaining olive oil. Place the zucchinis in a pan. Brush cuts and over the zucchinis generously with garlic rosemary mixture. Sprinkle with ground black pepper and bake for 40-50 minutes or until crispy on the top.
- Remove from the oven and serve warm.
Congrats on such a brilliant way to force yourself to unpack in a week instead of taking forever!
The recipe for the zucchinis with pancetta a fabulous idea! At last my husband of 60 years ate a zucchini – and said he loved it!!! They were delicious!
Thank you very much