From Italy to Iran with love: Pepper and Pancetta Tortiglioni

Peppers and pancetta tortiglioniI have been fortunate enough to be asked by lovely Azita to write a guest post that she has published on her wonderful blog, Fig and Quince. If you don’t know Azita yet, do yourself a favor: go check her blog out and enter her enchanted Persian world.

This is the original guest post that I wrote for Azita, which contains a few differences (in the story, not in the recipe!) compared to that which Azita published: in other words, this is the director’s cut, if you will. 😉

I have been lucky enough to get to meet Azita in person a few months ago. I don’t remember how we found each other on the blogosphere but I remember how I felt at the beginning of our “relationship”… cautious.

I have always been a big introvert and extremely good at keeping my distance from people – a huge disappointment due to a friendship that fell apart a couple of years ago didn’t help, and actually ended up making me even more skeptical, if possible, when it comes to meeting new people, either in person or over the internet.

However, when I started reading Azita‘s posts, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the cheerfulness, the lightness and the language richness of her writing style.

There is no doubt that her country, culture and culinary traditions are fascinating in and of themselves, but she is astonishingly capable to write about them in such an articulate and eclectic way that every time I read one of her posts I have the impression of reading one chapter of “One Thousand and One Nights”, where flavors, aromas, perfumes and ancient customs all blend in together to give birth to something magical.

And yet, her posts are always funny and cheerful and modern and colorful. Even her pictures and her compositions speak for the talented artist that she is. Her attention to details is impressive to say the least and her comments to other people’s posts are always brilliant with a touch of graciousness.

When I was about to meet her in person, I was nervous. I’m always nervous when I have to meet new people. It is simply not my thing! 😉 As soon as she stepped into my house, she came toward me and she hugged me and kissed me as if we had known each other for years. I will never forget that hug. Why? The warmth that her hug gave me as a human being was totally unexpected and yet so refreshing and fulfilling!

When I had to pick the dish to be published on Azita‘s wonderful blog as a guest post, I immediately went for a pasta dish with peppers. Why? Well, I’m Italian and pasta is one of the emblems of my culinary tradition. So no doubt there! 🙂 The reason I picked peppers is because I think they represent Azita in her fullness. Their color is so vibrant that they bring cheerfulness and happiness in your life as soon as you look at them and their taste is so strongly flavorful and overwhelming that as soon as you eat them your taste buds are literally pervaded by their richness the same way I was by Azita‘s hug that Sunday afternoon.

So from Italy to Iran – one way – with love!

Peppers and pancetta tortiglioni

2 Servings


2 peppers
4 oz, chopped pancetta
1 leek
4 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
6/7 oz, pasta of your choice
2 Tbsp, grated Parmigiano cheese
four/five thyme stalks
Ground black pepper


Peppers and pancetta tortiglioniPreheat your oven to 400F.

Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Rinse the peppers under cold water, dry them and place them on a baking sheet (I always put some parchment paper on my baking sheet to be sure that nothing sticks 🙂 ). Bake for about 20 minutes (or until the peppers are cooked), take them out of the oven and, with the help of a knife and fork, remove the skin of the peppers.

In the meantime, cut off the green top of the leek and its root. Discard the outer layer. Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse the halves well under water. On a chopping board, slice the leek thinly and evenly. In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil, add the leek slices, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Add some water and stir occasionally until the water evaporates. Set aside.

In another skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of oil, add the pancetta and fry, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta gets golden and crispy. Set aside.

Put a large pot of salted water over the stove to boil. While the water is warming up, place the peppers, the leek slices, some thyme leaves and 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a blender or a food processor. Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and blend everything until you obtain a smooth sauce. Transfer the sauce to a pot and warm it on a very low heat.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and put it in the pot where you warmed the sauce and toss to coat. Add the pancetta and toss to coat.

Put the pasta into the serving plates, dust the top of each plate with some Parmigiano cheese and garnish the plate with some thyme leaves.


Francesca Xx


About Francesca

I am a cook and the founder and art director of Flora's Table, the fine cooking and wine blog. Check us out at :-)
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40 Responses to From Italy to Iran with love: Pepper and Pancetta Tortiglioni

  1. I’m making this tomorrow. Every time I see this recipe it’s calling my name. It looks incredibly good and love the guest post. I am fortunate to know both you and the lovely Azita.

  2. Francesca. I miss your delicious posts. this looks super num num. I will be preparing this tonight…except X 5…. 🙂

  3. mmmarzipan says:

    How wonderful! Looking forward to checking out another lovely blog too! x

  4. Azita says:

    Ha ha, the Director’s Cut! 🙂 You are awesome Francesca! One clarification: I am lucky that you agreed to grace F&Q with a guest post, & not vice versa! Thank you again for a lovely guest post and helping me above and beyond when I reached out. I’m also very lucky to get to know you. Tanti bacci -azita

    [ps read an interview with Ira Glass today where he categorized himself as a “noisy introvert” … it’s a good read, check it out:

    • Francesca says:

      The pleasure was all mine, my dear friend. I’m sure you would have done the same for me. 🙂
      A noisy introvert is such an interesting concept! I’ll have to think about it and see if I can fit in the category. 😉
      Tantissimi baci,
      F. Xx

  5. I posted on the other blog, thinking I was posting on yours. This was lovely–as always!

  6. Antisocial Patty says:

    What a wonderful story! I agree with you on the introvert thing. But sometimes it pays off when we take a risk. The recipe looks amazing, too!

    • Francesca says:

      Sometimes! But it is getting harder and harder to understand when it is worthy taking a risk …at least for me. Thank you, Patty!

      • Antisocial Patty says:

        I totally understand. I often have to make myself get outside of my head to take a risk. It’s a hard thing to figure out.

  7. ChgoJohn says:

    I fell in love with this recipe when I first read it at Azita’s and I can say the love affair continues. It’s such a great, flavorful recipe, Francesca. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I enjoyed your Guest Post at Azita’s blog, and I am enjoying it again here. Tasty and lovely recipe, so Italian, truly a love from Italy. 🙂

  9. Mary says:

    Beautiful story, here is to new and enduring friendships ~ your recipe looks and sounds delicious, I look forward to trying it out. Have a beautiful weekend.

  10. From one introvert to another, I can completely understand how you feel about meeting new people Francesca. I’m exactly the same way! How wonderful that you and Azita were able to forge a friendship that started out in the blogosphere. I’m sure she was thrilled with your guest post, my mouth is just watering looking at the pictures!

    • Francesca says:

      Oh dear Heather! I’m so glad we are on the same page! I feel like I don’t have to explain myself because you know exactly what it is like. Thank you, lovely Heather!

  11. The pepper and pancetta dish sounds lovely and the china you serve it in is beautiful.
    I loved reading the description of your meeting with Azita. I too am an introvert and tend to keep my distance from others so I identified with what you said. I am pleased for you that the meet-up went well. 😉 Bx

  12. What a lovely blog post. Great to hear such enthusiasm about a person, especially from an introvert like you. 🙂 Azita sounds delightful. Off to read her blog now…

  13. Karen says:

    A nice recipe for a lovely friendship that has developed between the two of you. 🙂

  14. Dina says:

    Great to read the Director’s cut, actually, I collect Director’s cut! 😉
    What a wonderful, warmhearted ❤ tribute to your friend Azita! And a very nice recipe to share, tasty and very Italian. One of my best friends comes from Iran. Mehri is a glowing personality and I can very much follow your description of Azita.
    Hope you had a great holiday, all of you. Norway has been boiling hot for weeks and weeks, unbelievable, phew. 🙂
    Big hug, Dina and lots of love from Klausbernd, Siri and Selma

  15. Francesca says:

    Thank you! Italy has been great as always! The weather was not that great but I can’t complain! 😉 I’ll be back there in about 3 weeks to attend my cousin’s wedding and take her Majesty home just in time for the beginning of school.
    Hope you guys are having a wonderful summer!
    Talk to you soon,
    F. Xx

  16. Delicious. This looks exactly like my kind of comfort food. Thank you for sharing. Emma.

  17. Sophie33 says:

    Am divine recipe that I made a few days ago, so delicious too! 😊

  18. Liz says:

    My son really loves pasta. I’m sure he would enjoy this one. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Bizou says:

    Read this first time on Azita’s blog, made it, loved it, & now even love it more. Too bad we are so far a way. I would’ve like to give you a hug like Azita for such a good recipes.

  20. laurasmess says:

    I did read this on Azita’s blog but it’s lovely to read your directors cut also! Such a lovely pasta dish between two wonderful friends! I always find it such a privilege to meet blogging friends who I have gotten to know through words alone. I think we are fortunate in the fact that most bloggers seem to be warm, genuine people (maybe it is the creativity and the generosity embedded in cooking and feeding people) and I feel incredibly privileged to be part of the network. I loved seeing the photos of you all! Delicious post in more ways than one xx

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