Here is an interesting and delicious version of a BLT, where pasta stands in for bread, pancetta replaces bacon and arugula fills in for lettuce. It’s a hearty dish. I suggest that the tomatoes be prepared ahead of time – early in the day or even up to a week in advance.
- 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes, roasted
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 lb. pancetta, chopped into small, quarter-inch cubes
- 1 lb. dried bucatini (or your favorite pasta)
- 1/2 lb. arugula/rocket leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
- salt and pepper
- Start by preparing the tomatoes: Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F. Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange, cut side up, in a single layer on a baking sheet or pan (rimmed, to catch the juices). Drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil over the tomatoes and scatter the garlic slices on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the tomatoes for 2-3 hours until they have collapsed and shriveled a bit, but are still moist and juicy. Allow to cool and use immediately, or store in a container in the fridge for up to a week.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. While the pasta water heats, warm the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta.
- Saute the pancetta, stirring frequently for 8-10 minutes, until it has rendered its fat and has turned golden and crispy.
- Add the roasted tomatoes to the pan with the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Turn the heat off and cover the pan to keep the pancetta-tomato mixture warm.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions — al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Add the drained pasta to the pan with the pancetta and tomatoes and gently toss the pasta and sauce to combine thoroughly. If necessary, add a splash or two of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce a little. Add the arugula and continue tossing for a minute or so, until the greens are just wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the pasta onto individual plates or bowls and serve with sprinkled, shredded or shaved Pecorino-Romano cheese on top.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.