Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Penne with Roasted Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, Pancetta and Fried Sage

Penne with Roasted Sungold Tomatoes, Pancetta and Fried Sage

Last week, I featured a series of great tomato recipes. So, guess what? This week...I'm doing it again. Tomatoes are so good right now that they're worthy of a bonus week of great recipes.

Sungold cherry tomatoes from New Morning Farm
One of my favorite varieties of summer tomatoes are the Sungold cherry tomatoes I buy from my neighborhood farmers market, New Morning Farm. They have such a wonderful flavor: richly tomato and very sweet. Sometimes so sweet it's like eating candy in vegetable form. Seriously. They are amazing.

Roasting the Sungolds gives the tomatoes some additional depth while concentrating their sweetness. They're perfect for pasta when cooked this way.

This pasta was inspired by a recipe I saw in the latest issue of Food & Wine  for bruschetta topped with ricotta, roasted cherry tomatoes and fried sage. I made some great roasted tomato and ricotta bruschetta earlier this year, but thought the flavor combination of the tomatoes, sage and pancetta would work just as well in pasta, minus the ricotta. Frying the sage makes it a little crispy around the edges, while also nicely flavoring the oil it's fried in.

Penne with Roasted Sungold Tomatoes, Pancetta and Fried Sage
Inspired by Ricotta and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta with Pancetta by Susan Spungen for Food & Wine

12 oz. sungold cherry tomatoes (may substitute other types of cherry tomatoes)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. dried penne rigate pasta
4 oz. diced pancetta
Handful of fresh sage leaves (about 20-30, depending on their size)
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine cherry tomatoes and sliced garlic in a large bowl. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil, a pinch of salt and a good dose of freshly ground black pepper. Toss to combine, then transfer to a Roast tomatoes 325 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain and set the pasta aside.

3. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until browned, stirring occasionally to brown evenly. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Clean out the pan, then add 1/4 of olive oil. When hot, add the sage and fry until bright green, about a minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried sage to a  paper-towel-lined plate.

4. In a large bowl (or, conveniently, the pot the pasta was cooked in), combine the pasta, roasted tomatoes and any of their juices, browned pancetta, fried sage, a few tablespoons of the olive oil the sage was cooked in, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Add about half of the pasta cooking water and stir to combine the pasta and other ingredients. Add additionally pasta cooking water as needed to achieve a slightly saucy texture. Serve pasta in shallow bowls topped with grated parmesan.

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