What’s Burning: Penne con Pancetta e Pomodorini

Clueless in the Kitchen | ©Tom Palladio ImagesI’ve admitted it many times over, so it shouldn’t come as a total surprise when I say that I’m pretty clueless in the kitchen. That’s why, rather than take the blame directly, I refer all matters of the culinary arts over to my imaginary, apron-wearing, alter ego, Lazy Person.

We’re here to share uncomplicated foodie formulas that anyone who can walk and chew gum at the same time can master. So, if you’ll toss that double stick of well-spent Wrigley’s into the trash we can get this latest What’s Burning delight underway.

It’s a pasta dish of penne rigate (80g), pancetta affumicata (smoked bacon cubes, 25g), pomodorini (6 Datterino-style cherry tomatoes), roasted black olives (4), a splash of wine, some chopped red onion and a little heat that we’ll plate in under 30-min.

Step-1: Start with the tomatoes. Score each one with a knife, fill a small pot with water, submerge the tomatoes, fire to HIGH and bring to a boil. Once the tomatoes have split open remove from heat, drain, let cool, then peel off the skins. Set aside.

Step-2: Fill a medium-to-large size pot with water, cover, fire to HIGH and bring to a boil.

Step-3: While the water is working up a sweat, chop half of a small red onion. Set aside.

Step-4: Take the black olives and cut into small pieces removing the pits as you go along. Set aside.

Step-5: Measure out the portion of the pre-packaged, store-bought pancetta. Set aside.

Step-6: Coat the bottom of a skillet with 2 tbsp of virgin olive oil; fire to MEDIUM; sprinkle in some spicy, dried red pepper (to taste); and, add in the chopped onion and caramelize.

Penne, Pancetta e Pomodorini Pasta | ©Tom Palladio Images

Step-7: Add in the peeled tomatoes and cook an additional 1-min.

Penne, Pancetta e Pomodorini Pasta | ©Tom Palladio Images

Step-8: Add in the pancetta cubes, black olives and 1/4 glass of white wine. Continue cooking until the pancetta crisps and the alcohol dissipates. About 3-4 min. Remove from heat and let it rest.

Penne, Pancetta e Pomodorini Pasta | ©Tom Palladio Images

Step-9: The pasta water is boiling. Remove the lid, add a level tbsp. of sea salt, drop in the penne, stir vigorously for 15-sec. then let cook for 9-min.

Step-10: When pasta is early al dente, drain, introduce penne into the sauce pan, fire to MEDIUM and sauté for 1-min.

Penne, Pancetta e Pomodorini Pasta | ©Tom Palladio Images  Penne, Pancetta e Pomodorini Pasta | ©Tom Palladio Images

Step-11: Plate and serve with crunchy, artisan, black-olive bread and a nice glass of red wine. My recommendation is the Zanovello Girapoggio Cabernet 2007 DOC, a full-bodied blend of Sauvignon and Franc from Tenuta Ca’ Lustra in the Euganean Hills of the Veneto.


©The Palladian Traveler | ©Tom Palladio Images

TPT Borsalino 2014 Color |©Tom Palladio Images



  1. I think you add a pinch of sea salt to pasta water- surely not a handful?

    Read an Italian cookbook yesterday that made me feel like I had one foot in Italy. Your posts have the same effect. I can’t imagine a more iconic food category.

    Enjoy every moment as we enjoy along with you!

    1. Holly — Depends on the size of the pot, amount of water and the other ingredients. For this recipe, I’d pull back a bit on the sea salt due to the saltiness of the pancetta. Never a pinch, but in this case perhaps a tablespoon of salt, or half a handful. I’ll adjust the text. Good catch!

  2. Well now. I’d road-test that right this minute, except I don’t have any black olives to hand. Maybe an Irish compromise is in order. Or maybe not! Vicina

      1. Difficult not to be biased as I look out over The Euganean Hills as I type, with Ca’ Lustra just up the road. Cin cin! 🙂

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