Friday Flashback: Penne with Pancetta and Roasted Red Peppers, Absorption Cooked with Tomatoes and Basil

April 29, 2011

I’ve been cooking pasta like this for nearly a year and, although I’ve made several variations, this one remains my favorite.  Give it a try!


There’s got to be an easier name for this method of cooking pasta. Slow-cooked? Actually, it’s not all that slow to cook. Considering that you don’t have to wait for the water to boil, this dish took about the same amount of time.

I read about the absorption method of cooking pasta a while back and had a great big “DOH!” moment, wondering why the heck I’d never thought of it. Sure, I’ve boiled orzo or pastine in broth before but I hadn’t considered cooking the pasta right into a big pan of something good. The result is a creaminess and depth of flavor similar to risotto but, because it requires only occasional stirring instead of the continuous wrist-breaking work of risotto, it’s a whole lot easier.

I’m totally hooked! I’ve already made another variation and I’m pondering yet another for tonight. Get creative and tell me what you’d include!

  • Pasta, something sturdy like Penne, 1 pound
  • Pancetta, about 1/2 a pound
  • Ripe Tomatoes, 6 to 8 small to medium
  • Garlic, 6 to 8 cloves
  • Red Bell Peppers, 2 or 3
  • White Wine, about a cup
  • Chicken Stock or Bouillon, 6 cups or so
  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Fresh Cheese for the table

Dice the pancetta. I roasted these peppers by halving them and putting them under the broiler until they began to blacken. Next time I’ll just slice them into strips and cook them in the pot along with everything else.Mince the garlic and quarter the tomatoes.Bring the broth to a low simmer and keep it hot.Add just a little olive oil to a large saute pan. Fry the pancetta until it begins to get crispy. Remove it with a slotted spatula, drain on paper towels and set it aside for now.Add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan, with a little more olive oil if it seems dry. Sprinkle in a dash of crushed red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat for a minute or two, until the garlic and tomatoes begin to soften.Stir in the wine.Add the pasta and stir well.Add a little broth and stir, cooking over medium heat. As the broth is absorbed, add a little more and stir again. Continue until the pasta is nearly done.Meanwhile, peel the blackened skin from the peppers and chop them up.Tear in a handful of basil leaves.Add the peppers and pancetta.Stir it all together and cook for just another couple of minutes.Serve it with lots of fresh Parmesan or Asiago.Enjoy!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jaida April 29, 2011 at 9:56 am

This looks delicious!! Great pics…very appetizing :)


2 Rachel @ Rachel's Recipe Reviews April 29, 2011 at 12:15 pm

This looks so good! I’m pretty sure I could eat this everyday! Some of my favorite flavors.


3 Katerina April 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I have never tried cooking pasta like risotto but I love the idea just like the pasta you made! Following from foodblogs!


4 Urban Wife April 30, 2011 at 10:25 am

I never thought of cooking a pasta dish this way! That looks delicious. In mine, I would add some pesto and sub mushrooms for the pancetta. :)


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