One of the most satisfying pasta dishes I know is called BLT Bucatini, which incorporates pancetta (bacon), arugula (lettuce) and cherry tomatoes. Bucatini pasta replaces the bread in this BLT. It's a clever, hearty and delicious dish.
The recipe here is based on one in Domenica Marchetti's The Glorious Pasta of Italy, which I reviewed in City Weekly last summer. I suggest that the tomatoes be prepared ahead of time -- early in the day or even up to a week in advance.
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes, roasted
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 lb. pancetta, chopped into small, quarter-inch cubes
1 lb. dried bucatini (or your favorite pasta)
1/2 lb. arugula/rocket leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
salt and pepper
Begin by preparing the tomatoes: Preheat oven to 275 F. Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange, cut side up, in a single layer on a baking sheet (rimmed, to catch the juices) or pan. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil over the tomatoes and scatter the garlic slices on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Roast the tomatoes for 2-3 hours until the they have collapsed and shriveled a bit, but are still moist and juicy. Allow to cool and use immediately, or store in a container in the fridge for up to a week.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
While the water heats, warm the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta.
Saute the pancetta, stirring frequently for 8-10 minutes, until it has rendered its fat and has turned golden and crispy.
Add the roasted tomatoes to the pan with the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Turn the heat off and cover the pan to keep the pancetta-tomato mixture warm.
Cook the pasta according to package directions -- al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.
Add the drained pasta to the pan with the pancetta and tomatoes and gently toss the pasta and sauce to combine thoroughly. If necessary, add a splash or two of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce a little. Add the arugula and continue tossing for a minute or so, until the greens are just wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the pasta onto individual plates or bowls and serve with sprinkled, shredded or shaved Pecorino-Romano cheese on top.