I had a serious craving for mint last week and needed an excuse to throw a large handful of it into something. Of course, a bourbon drink helped with that — but what else? Enter this mouth-watering recipe from The New York Times.
Who doesn’t love the combination of bacon, butter, and cheese? Throw in some veggies (tomatoes) and green things (mint) and the whole thing becomes a balanced meal…right?
Burst tomato pasta with mint, pancetta, and ricotta
By Melissa Clark, for the The New York Times
1 pound fusilli pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, preferably thick cut, diced
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Fine sea salt and black pepper, as needed
1 quart cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons butter
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving
3 cups whole mint leaves, torn
4 scallions, preferably red scallions for color, thinly sliced
Flaky sea salt, to finish
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 15 seconds, then add the oil and heat until it thins out and easily coats the pan when swirled. Add pancetta and cook until it starts to render its fat, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they burst, turn golden at the edges and shrivel up slightly, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add pasta to pan and toss with tomato-pancetta mixture; if the mixture looks dry add a little pasta cooking water a few tablespoons at a time. Cook over high heat until the pasta finishes cooking in the sauce. Add the butter and toss until it melts and coats everything.
Divide pasta among warmed pasta bowls. Garnish with dollops of ricotta, if desired, and top with a generous mound of fresh mint and scallions. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and more pepper before serving.