This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our privacy policy.

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. This smoky iteration of bacon is so full of flavor and personality that it transforms any dish it’s part of. But not to the point where it overshadows the juicy, ripe tomatoes it’s mingling within this summertime pasta dish.

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. Think of what you love the most about a BLT, and imagine it translated into a warm pasta dish — that’s what we have going on here!

You can really think of this as a one-dish (30-minute!) meal, what with all of the tomatoes built right in, but I’d serve it up with a leafy salad. Try Crunchy Mixed Green Salad, Romaine and Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing, or for a big old treat, maybe Spinach Salad with Burrata.

Serving dish of Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes.

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

Tweet This

Ingredients

Pasta, cherry tomatoes, pancetta, and other ingredients on white marble.
  • Pasta – I like spaghetti or other long thin pasta for this recipe.
  • Diced pancetta – You can buy it pre-diced or dice it yourself.
  • Olive oil 
  • Onion – Any color.
  • Fennel bulb – This adds just a hint of anise flavor which balances the richness of the pancetta really nicely.
  • Red pepper flakes – A little pop of heat; dial it up or down as you like (and pass a little bowl at the table for people who like things hotter!).
  • Cherry tomatoes – Any color(s)!
  • Parmesan cheese – You will probably want to pass a little bowl of additional Parm at the table for your diners to sprinkle as they wish. Freshly grated Parmesan is such a treat in a recipe like this.
  • Flat-leaf parsley – Adds freshness and color.
Slicing cherry tomatoes on cutting board with chef knife.

How to Make Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Crisp up the pancetta: While you are cooking the pasta, cook the 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.
Skillet of pancetta on the stovetop.
  1. Sauté the vegetables: In the same pan, sauté the onion and fennel until they have started to soften and turn golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes until they have softened.
Skillet of tomatoes and other vegetables.
  1. Combine the pasta: Toss the drained with some of the pasta cooking water and the tomato mixture. Add the Parmesan and half the pancetta, and toss to combine.
  2. Serve: Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl, and sprinkle over additional Parmesan, the remaining pancetta, and the parsley.
Woman sprinkling pancetta onto a bowl of pasta.

FAQs

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. Unlike bacon, it isn’t smoked, just cured for several months. Pancetta often comes sliced in a spiral form but can also 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.

What are the best tomatoes for fresh tomato pasta?

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 of diced tomatoes, any color.

Tips

  • Using a mix of tomatoes in different colors adds even more vibrancy to this dish.
  • Cook the pancetta (or bacon) until it is golden brown and crispy on the edges, but still a bit chewy. Allow it to drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Make Ahead and Storage

This pasta is best eaten right after it’s made, but if you have leftovers, you surely will want to keep them. They can be reheated in a microwave until warmed through, or you can heat the pasta in a pot over medium heat, stirring until warm. In either case, you will probably want to add a bit of water to loosen up the pasta as it reheats.

What to Serve With Pancetta Pasta and Tomatoes

Green Beans with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Salsa Verde Garlic Bread

Classic Caesar Salad

Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes in serving bowls with glass red wine.

More Summery Pasta Dishes

Like this recipe? Pin it to your favorite board on Pinterest.

Pin This

Pancetta Pasta with Tomatoes

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 People
This pasta has so much going on flavorwise, but it's really simple to pull together, and downright beautiful. Using a mix of tomatoes in different colors adds even more vibrancy to this dish.

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)

Instructions 

  • 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. Sauté 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.

Notes

  • Using a mix of tomatoes in different colors adds even more vibrancy to this dish.
  • Cook the pancetta (or bacon) until it is golden brown and crispy on the edges but still a bit chewy. Allow it to drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Nutrition

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

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

Comments

  1. Great addition of fennel! Added more red pepper flakes but otherwise perfect!
    A true 30 minute meal.

Comments are closed.

This is temporary while we perform maintenance on the site. They will reopen in a few days.