Spaghetti with Tomato Conserva, Pancetta and Romano

Football,  and pasta.  Thank you Fine Cooking (for the pasta part).   On a day when my picks for my football pool went down in flames, I comforted myself with a delicious pasta with the end of summer tomatoes.

This is really a Pasta d’Amatriciana, but with more deeply flavored tomatoes.


Start with the tomato conserva:

  • 4 lb. ripe, meaty tomatoes, such as beefsteak or plum, cored and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.Divide the tomatoes and garlic between two large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle the oil over the tomatoes and season with 1tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper. Gently toss the tomatoes to evenly coat with the oil and then spread in a single layer.Put the sheets in the oven and lower the heat to 225°F and go watch a couple football games. Slowly roast, switching the positions of the sheets halfway through, until the tomatoes look like juicy sun-dried tomatoes, wrinkly and slightly browned in spots, 5 to 6 hours,  BUT HONESTLY — MINE WERE DONE IN ABOUT 3  1/4 HOURS.  Let the tomatoes cool for at least 10 minutes before serving or using.
  • Leftovers

    The conserva can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months.


THEN when you’re ready for dinner:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. dried spaghetti
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced fatty pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 cups Tomato Conserva,  coarsely chopped (recipe above)
  • 1/4 — 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I lean toward the less is more version)
  • 2 oz. finely grated aged Pecorino Romano (2 cups using a microplane grater)
  • 1/2 cup packed whole flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
  • some toasted pine nuts taste really great with this too

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 3 minutes.

Add the conserva, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup of the pasta water and toss to combine. Add the pasta and cook, tossing, until al dente, 1to 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low and add the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, half of the pecorino, and the parsley. Toss, adding more pasta water, if needed, to loosen the sauce. Season to taste with salt and serve.


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