Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bucatini with Cherry Tomatoes, Pancetta & Basil

You’ve probably noticed that my new go-to ingredient is pancetta. What is pancetta? Its Italian bacon that is salt cured and pairs well with soups, salads, pasta. Yum! Sometimes the best recipes are born in an instant. This is one of those times. When hunger and inspiration collide, you get this – bucatini with cherry tomatoes, pancetta and basil. Yum!

Bucatini with Cherry Tomatoes, Pancetta & Basil
Serves 2 to 3

½ pound bucatini (or other dried strand pasta)
2 thick slices of pancetta
Olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes (left whole if small; halved or quartered if large)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon basil, minced, for serving
Parmigiano reggiano, for serving

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water generously and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, drain and reserve a 1/4 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta, as well as a glug of oil, if the pancetta is sticking to the pan. Cook until the pancetta is crisp, and add the garlic and pepper flakes (I used a couple big pinches). Stir and cook for 30 seconds or so, until the garlic is fragrant and lightly golden. Add the tomatoes, and cook until the tomatoes have softened and begun to burst. Add the lemon juice and wine, lower the heat and simmer until the pasta is drained. Salt to taste, if necessary (my pancetta was nice and salty, so I didn’t need it).

Add the drained pasta to the tomato mixture and toss to coat the pasta. If the sauce is on the dry side, add some of the reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Transfer the pasta to a large platter or bowl, top with basil and cheese, and serve.

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