BLT Bucatini

Who doesn't love a good BLT sandwich, one packed with lots of crispy-chewy bacon, meaty ripe tomatoes and crunchy lettuce? I do, which is why I knew I couldn't go wrong with this Italian riff on that American classic, with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, chunks of spicy pancetta and peppery arugula standing in for the bacon and lettuce, and pasta in place of the bread. Get a head start by roasting the cherry tomatoes early in the day. This recipe is adapted from my book The Glorious Pasta of Italy (Chronicle Books 2011).

BLT Bucatini i i
Domenica Marchetti for NPR
BLT Bucatini
Domenica Marchetti for NPR

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, slow roasted,* with their juices

1 pound dried bucatini or spaghetti

8 ounces arugula, coarsely chopped or torn

1/2 cup freshly shredded pecorino romano cheese for serving

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously.

While the water is heating, warm the olive oil in a large frying pan placed over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pancetta begins to render its fat and turn somewhat crispy. Stir in the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until they are heated through. Turn off the heat and cover the sauce to keep it warm.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate the noodles and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions until al dente. Reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink.

Transfer the pasta to the frying pan and gently toss the pasta and sauce to combine thoroughly, adding a splash or two of the cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Add the arugula by the handful and continue to toss for a minute or so, or until the greens are just wilted. Transfer the dressed pasta to a warmed serving bowl or to warmed shallow individual bowls and sprinkle the pecorino over the top. Serve immediately.

*To make slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, heat the oven to 275 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange them in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil over the tomatoes, then scatter 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves over them. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 2 hours, or until the tomatoes have collapsed and shriveled a little but are still moist. Let cool and use immediately, or store in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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