Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, Pancetta

adapted from Canal House Cooking

serves 4

3 ounces diced pancetta (or bacon if you can't find pancetta)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pasta
2 anchovy fillets
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs*
4 tomatoes, tops sliced off, seeds scooped out
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
small handful fresh thyme, parsley or basil leaves, chopped
salt & pepper
8 ounces spaghetti

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Fry the pancetta in a skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp around the edges.  Use a slotted spatula or spoon to lift the pancetta out of the skillet to a plate.  Leave the rendered fat in the skillet.  Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the anchovies to the same skillet.  Use a wooden spoon to mash the anchovies until they dissolve.  Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until they are golden.  Keep the cooked pancetta set aside for later.

Put the tomatoes, cut side up, in a baking dish and slip some garlic into each tomato.  Season the tomatoes with plenty of salt and pepper.  Mound some bread crumbs onto each tomato, getting some inside the tomatoes.  Scatter herbs on top.  Drizzle 4 tablespoons of olive oil over all.  Roast the tomatoes in the oven until they have browned a bit and the interior is supple but the tomatoes have not collapsed, about one hour.

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Drain.  Return the pasta to the pot and remove the tomatoes from the baking dish and set aside.  Stir the oily tomato juices and any bits of bread crumbs from the bottom of the tomato roasting dish into the pasta.  Add a little olive oil and the reserved pasta water and toss. 

Pour the pasta into a serving bowl, place the tomatoes on top, sprinkle the pancetta over all and serve.

The Italian Dish

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