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in the kitchen with: melissa clark’s bacon, rosemary and tomato pasta

by Kristina Gill

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 AppetitFood & WineEvery 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.



Photography by Kristina Gill; salad plate (milk) by mud australia; pasta from Verrigni

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.

Suggested For You


  • It looks delicious! Bacon in pasta will always be a winner at our home. I have tons of garden veg at this time of the year and I might be tempted to throw in some courgettes and basil to this dish as well though. Not that the dish needs it but I have to use it all up somehow! ;)

  • This looks delicious! I’m definitely giving it a try. The very simple tomato pasta dishes are always my favorites. A favorite staple & easy dish of mine is penne with tomato sauce, sweet Maui onions and cut up portuguese sausage. I think I’m going to add ripe local tomatoes from now on.

    Catering from a fifth floor walkup? That’s dedication :-)

  • Can’t wait to try it. I’m going to pull the recipe up when I get to my parents house in California (I’m in Washington) she is ill and could use some wonderfully healthy recipes.

  • It would be really nice to have a simple print version of the recipes on this site!

  • Yes please add a printable recipe button to your recipes in your posts. Going to the store for the bacon now!

  • Made this tonight- absolutely delicious. Added some Kalamata olives at the last minute. Loved how easy and quick this was.

  • Made it tonight, gorgeous, simple, tasty – just how I like my food. I will make it with wholewheat pasta next time.

  • I think the simpler a dish is, the better the flavors. Especially Italian cuisine. This si a classic example. Gorgeous reds from those tomatoes :)

  • I could make this too..What kind of alcoholic beverage would you recommend? I’d think a bubbly like Prosecco would be good. I’d eat this and then go knit in a corner somewhere.

  • Hi MB,

    I can’t remember what red wine I used there in the image…but I think you should drink whatever tastes good to you and whatever will make you happy!


  • I made this Sunday night, it was AMAZING!!!!! I don’t know where I have been, but I have never cooked tomatoes with just garlic and rosemary before- thank you so much for changing my life in the kitchen, esp. because I always have tomatoes and grow a ton of rosemary. Kids loved it too. I have honestly never been so pleasantly surprised by a recipes outcome. Thank You!

  • So good. I made this sauce to eat over homemade butternut squash raviolis. It was like eating autumn in a bowl.

  • I don’t usually care for spaghetti but this was amazing! I added some sweet peppers and basil and stirred in a bit of spinach at the end, but I know it was the basic recipe that made this wondeerful taste!

  • hey, this looks really nice.
    Will try this in the week. have you tried it by cooking the bacon and tomatoes in the oven first?

  • I live in Oz and don’t believe I have ever seen anything called Red Pepper Flakes. Could someone please be kind enough to explain if it is red capsicum or chilli?