On a recent flight, I sat by a young Italian architect who was going to Los Angeles for an internship. Somehow, we got on the topic of food, and she mentioned that the first thing she eats when she returns to Italy is either pasta or pizza. When I return to the US, it’s a burger and fries for me, the right way (not any old way). Though I’ve lived in Italy quite a while, I could never really get into the idea of pasta being a welcome-home dish until a couple weeks ago when I tried this recipe by cookbook author and New York Times columnist Melissa Clark for Pasta with Bacon, Rosemary and Very Ripe Tomatoes. It ignited a wonderful appreciation for pasta, punctuated with lovely tomatoes and, of course, bacon. The pasta must, however, be cooked al dente!! — Kristina
About Melissa: Melissa Clark writes about cuisine and other products of appetite. After brief forays working as a cook in a restaurant kitchen and a caterer out of her fifth floor walk-up, Clark decided on a more sedentary path. She earned an MFA in writing from Columbia University, and began a freelance food-writing career. Currently, she is a food columnist for the New York Times and has written for Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Every Day with Rachel Ray, and Martha Stewart, as well as 32 cookbooks. Her collaboration with chef Peter Berley, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, received both a James Beard award and a Julia Child Cookbook award in 2000. Her first book, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, was published in 2010, and her next book, Cook This Now — a personal collection of seasonally driven, inventive comfort food — is due out in October, published by Hyperion. Melissa was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where she now lives with her husband, Daniel Gercke, their daughter Dahlia and their formerly cosseted cat.
The full recipe continues after the jump…
Pasta with Bacon, Rosemary and Very Ripe Tomatoes
- 8 ounces pasta, shape of choice (I often use Farro spaghetti here)
- 3 ounces bacon, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 large, bushy sprig of fresh rosemary
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 very large tomatoes (or 3 medium, a mix of yellow and red is nice), cored and chopped
- balsamic vinegar (optional)
- soft herbs if you want this to look pretty
1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of heavily salted water.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the grease in the pan (if it looks really greasy, spoon some out; you just need a thin layer, enough to sauté the garlic without burning).
3. Add the rosemary, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the skillet and cook until garlic is lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let the sauce simmer until the pasta is cooked. Season aggressively with more salt and black pepper. If it tastes flat, add a few drops of vinegar.
4. Drain the pasta and top with the sauce. Sprinkle with the bacon and herbs if you like.
Why Melissa Chose This Recipe
I love the way summery tomatoes, when stewed with a little bacon and rosemary, become so hearty, jammy and autumnal. When served with the whole-grain pasta, it makes a very hearty, restorative, warming meal that is still fresh and bright tasting and just perfect this time of year.