This is the pasta and fresh tomato sauce of my dreams. There are a few reasons for this, but I would be remiss in not starting with the word: pancetta.

Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

The nice news about this particular pasta made with fresh tomatoes is that you can use halved cherry tomatoes which are available year round, and don’t seem to disappoint in the winter, which regular tomatoes tend to do.  And of course you can use grape or teardrop tomatoes instead of classic cherry tomatoes.

If you have big ripe tomatoes, and want to seed and dice them to use instead of the cherry tomatoes, that’s fine.  You might need to cook them a bit less, but you can sub in about 3 or 4 cups diced tomatoes, any color.  

Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes: This pasta has so much going on in terms of flavor, color, texture, and just plain deliciousness.

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Slicing cherry tomatoes

What is Pancetta?

Pancetta is a kind of Italian bacon (though it can also be made in other countries).  It is seasoned with salt and pepper and often some herbs and spices, and unlike bacon it isn’t smoked, just cured for several months. Pancetta often comes sliced in a spiral form, but also can be found diced in packages, usually near the fine cheese section in the market.  It has a salty porky flavor that is somewhat like bacon, but less smoky.  If you can’t find pancetta, buy thick cut bacon, as thick as you can find it, and cut it into dice and prepare it the same way as directed for the pancetta.

How to Make Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes (in less than 30 minutes!)

While you are cooking the pasta, heat a large pan over medium heat.  Cook pancetta (or bacon) until it is golden brown and crispy on the edges, but still a bit chewy.  Transfer it with a slotted spoon to the paper towels to drain.

Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes

Return the pan to medium heat with whatever fat is still left in the pan, and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onion, fennel, red pepper flakes and season with salt.   Saute the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they have started to soften and turn golden.  Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes until they have softened and started to break down.  

Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes

When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain it, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water, then return the pasta to the pot.  Add the tomato mixture, and as much of the reserved pasta cooking water as you like so that the mixture is nicely sauced and not at all dry.   

Add the ½ cup Parmesan and half the pancetta and toss to combine.  Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl, and sprinkle over additional Parmesan (or pass it at the table)

Sprinkle over the remaining crisp pancetta, and the parsley.  

Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes

This pasta has so much going on flavorwise, but it’s really simple to pull together, and I think we can all agree, downright beautiful. Using a mix of tomatoes in different colors adds even more vibrancy to this dish.

What to Serve with Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes:

Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes

Other Italian Tomato Pasta Dishes:

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Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes

This pasta has so much going on in terms of flavor, color, texture, and just plain deliciousness.
Yield: 6 People
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti or other long thin pasta
  • 4 ounces (¼ pound) diced pancetta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil , divided
  • 1 large onion , diced
  • 1 small fennel bulb , cored and chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes , or to taste
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes , halved
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese , plus more to serve
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley approximately

Directions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to package directions.
  • As soon as you put the water on to boil, heat a large pan over medium heat. Line a plate with a couple of paper towels. Add the pancetta to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally until it is golden brown and crispy on the edges, but still has some give to it. Transfer it with a slotted spoon to the paper towels to drain.
  • Return the pan to medium heat with whatever fat is still left in the pan, and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, fennel, red pepper flakes and season with salt. Saute the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they have started to soften and turn golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes until they have softened and started to break down.
  • When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain it, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water, then return the pasta to the pot. Add the tomato mixture, and as much of the reserved pasta cooking water as you like so that the mixture is nicely sauced and not at all dry. Add the ½ cup Parmesan and half the pancetta and toss to combine.
  • Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl, and sprinkle over additional Parmesan (or pass it at the table), the remaining crisp pancetta, and the parsley. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 504kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 298mg | Potassium: 763mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1138IU | Vitamin C: 45mg | Calcium: 154mg | Iron: 3mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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