Monday, November 15, 2010

Ravioli with Arugula, Pancetta and Tomatoes

Giada has a big smile.

It's hard to believe one has that many teeth.

Anyway, she made just the kind of dish that I love the other day--a simple pasta with a few ingredients that still packs a lot of flavor. Pay me Food Network! Pay me my honorarium!

Anyway again, it was ravioli with arugula, pancetta and tomatoes.  I made a few changes to the recipe, because oddly I couldn't find 1 lb packages of ravioli, and I also wanted to make a double-batch in order to have leftovers.  Also, the original recipe has a very light tomato sauce--a 15-oz can of diced tomatoes, drained--more like bits of tomato scattered throughout the pasta.  That would be great, especially if you don't have a lot of time, but I had time, so I made a thicker tomato sauce. Plus, I didn't like the thought of throwing away the canned juices.  Do what you will.

Adapted from Food Network.

Ingredients (this serves about 6 hearty portions, so adjust as you see fit)
  • 1/2 lb to 3/4 pound pancetta, chopped into about 1/4" cubes (you could also use thick-cut bacon or guanciale) 
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 28 oz whole peeled tomatoes (again, the original recipe was for 15 oz of diced tomatoes, drained, for 1 lb of pasta--if you want a more scant tomato sauce for this double batch recipe, you can drain a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano (optional)
  • 6 oz arugula (basically the bagged packages that they sell--or use about 5-6 cups of loose arugula) 
  • 1.5 lb to 2 lbs cheese ravioli (I had two 13-oz packages)
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Whoa nelly, pancetta--come to momma.

The store didn't have rolled pancetta--just these slabs, and actually they smelled awfully like bacon. I was robbed. Doesn't matter.  Anyway, chop those suckers up and put them in a large pot, then turn the heat to medium low.  Stir occasionally and cook until fat renders and the pancetta becomes nice and crispy--the time will vary depending on lots of factors, but mine took at least 10 minutes.  

You want to do this slowly. If the heat is too high, the fat won't get a chance to render and it will be a little too uncooked in the middle of each cube, although not life-threatening or anything.

Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and pour out all but about a TBS of the fat.  Okay, this is a lie. I didn't pour any of it out.  I did see some fat floating around while I was cooking the sauce, though, so do feel free to drain if pork fat floating around in your sauce it not your pleasure.  Me, I didn't care so much.

While the pancetta is cooking, roughly chop the canned tomatoes, or crush them with your hands. I was in a chopping mood.

Add the chopped garlic to the remaining pancetta fat in the pot, and cook on medium heat for about 1 minute, until barely lightly golden.  

This is where a really quick recipe will diverge from a slightly longer (20-30 minutes more) recipe.  If you want the quick version, add the drained diced tomatoes, and skip to the arugula portion of the recipe below.  If you have a little more time, try the steps below. 

Add in the tomatoes, thyme and oregano.  Cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce cooks down by almost half, about 20-30 minutes (I had time so I cooked it down for a long time to get a thick sauce, but you don't have to do it for so long).

Add in the arugula.  It looks like a lot, but it will cook down.

See, I told you.  Season with pepper.  I would hold off until the end to see if you need salt, but the pancetta provides a lot of salt, and the ravioli you buy may have a good amount as well.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain, and add to the tomato sauce along with the reserved pancetta.

Serve, and sprinkle with just a tad of parmesan.  This was actually probably overkill because I used so much pancetta that the dish was plenty salty.



  1. I'm sorry, I stopped paying attention after that pancetta photo...

  2. Damn that looks yummy. Especially with the cheese. Mmmmm

  3. and thank god you brought back the bacon. we missed it.

  4. How does one smile that wide?
    Tonigh, I will dream of pork and ravioli. Mmmmmmm

  5. Oh I like the wilted arugula in it. Makes it healthy.