Roasted Tomato & Pancetta Pasta

Roasted Tomato & Pancetta Pasta | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Roasted Tomato & Pancetta Pasta | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Roasted Tomato & Pancetta Pasta | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Roasted Tomato & Pancetta Pasta | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Roasted Tomato & Pancetta Pasta | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Roasted Tomato & Pancetta Pasta | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Roasted Tomato & Pancetta Pasta | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love my garden. Even this year, when it hasn’t been that productive (I blame the early heat waves and the incredibly dry summer), I love going out to check on my plants every morning. It’s hard to put into words the way my garden makes me feel, but I figure other people feel the same way. Although it happens over and over again, I am simply dumbfounded that I can put a tiny fleck of seed into the ground and get a big, productive plant that will feed me delicious fruit or vegetables. Isn’t that just amazing?

Anyway, I thought my dad was the big gardener in my family (he was an agriculture major in college, is very active in his local p-patch, and can answer my “what is this plant?” text messages about 80% of the time), but it turns out my mom is pretty great at it too. She just put in a bunch of garden beds at her house and she has nearly 20 tomato plants. She has been sending me lots of pictures of all her produce, so I feel like I’ve been watching things grow alongside her. But I am in Seattle staying with her this week and when I see how excited she gets to show me her big prize tomato or her amazing cucumbers the size of my arm, I see where I get my wide-eyed awe from.

To celebrate tomato season (and you really should, at this point, be eating as many tomatoes as you can) and the fact that you can now turn on your oven without wanting to immediately die, make this pasta. Savory, rich, and bright, it captures some of my favorite flavors of the season.

Roasted Tomato & Pancetta Pasta

Serves 6

Ingredients

Roasted Tomatoes

2 pints large cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup olive oil
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
8 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
Salt + pepper

Pasta Assembly

1/4 lb thinly sliced pancetta
1 lb short twisty pasta, preferably Casarecce
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Freshly grated parmesan, for serving

Instructions

Roasted Tomatoes

Preheat your oven to 300°F. Slice all of the tomatoes in half and nestle, cut-side up, into 1-2 baking dishes. I fit mine into a 9×13 baking dish plus an 8×8. Nestle the garlic cloves and thyme amidst the tomatoes, then pour the olive oil over the tomatoes (about 1/2 cup over the large dish, and 1/4 cup over the small dish). Sprinkle the tomatoes with a few good three-finger pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Put in the oven and roast until your whole house starts to smell of tomatoes, and the tomatoes are still juicy and not yet dehydrated, 45-60 minutes. Once they’re out of the oven, remove the thyme sprigs and the garlic. Squeeze the soft garlic out of its peel onto a cutting board and give it a rough chop, though really it will become a paste.

Pasta Assembly

About halfway through your tomato-roasting time, set a large pot of salted water on the stove over high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, cook the pancetta. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat put the pancetta in an even layer, and cook until crisp, flipping over halfway through, about 45 seconds per side. You may need to do this in two batches. Remove the pancetta to a plate but leave the leftover fat in the pan. Once the pancetta is cool, crumble it.

Once the water is boiling, cook your pasta per the package instructions. Once cooked, drain, and add to the pan with the reserved pancetta fat. With a large spoon, scoop up the roasted tomatoes, catching a bit of the oil at the bottom of the dish, and add them to the pasta. Add the garlic paste. Stir gently until the pasta is coated with the tomato juices, oil, and pancetta fat. Add the crumbled pancetta, tarragon, and basil, again gently stirring to combine. Steal a bite and add more of whatever it needs: more tomato oil, fresh herbs, salt, or pepper.

Scoop pasta into bowls and top with a dusting of fresh parmesan to serve.

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