Pasta with Pancetta and Lentils

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I love spaghetti straight up, but I also really enjoyed this spaghetti-like dish with bucatini, pancetta, lentils, and a simple plum tomato sauce topped with basil leaves. I’ve mentioned in prior posts that kimchi and poached eggs have taken leading roles in my cooking lately, and I would also add lentils to that list. Lentils add texture and heartiness to almost any dish. They give this tomato sauce a “meaty” quality I really like.

Pasta with Pancetta and Lentils (from Food Network Magazine; serves 4)

Kosher salt
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup finely chopped pancetta (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 14 -ounce can lentils, drained
1 28 -ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
8 basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for topping
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs; drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils, then add the tomatoes, 2 cups water, the basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a boil; cook 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the pasta to the sauce along with half of the parmesan. Season with salt and toss. Divide among bowls; drizzle with olive oil and top with the remaining parmesan and more basil.

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