Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Featured

Cherry Tomato Puttanesca with Pancetta

I haven’t done one of these in a while — a “rouge” recipe. That is, one first published on Instagram instead of on the blog. Then copied here for those who don’t follow my instagram! They are recipes not with long stories, but rather something that I’m making in the moment with what I have on hand.  So here we go. Today’s recipe is Cherry Tomato Puttanesca with Pancetta, served over fried polenta, with some pecorino cheese to top it off!

As I’ve shared before, January is one of my least favorite months of the year. There are a lot of things wrong with January, not the least of which is tomatoes. You just can’t find a good tomato this time of year anywhere near me. The only passably good tomatoes to be had are the little ones — grape and cherry tomatoes.  Probably because they are grown indoors or hydroponically. Doesn’t really matter. If I have tomatoes on hand at this time of year, it is the small ones.  

Quick Dinner of What’s On Hand

I found myself in need of a quick dinner, and raided the fridge to see what I had on hand.  Grape tomatoes, bacon, capers, olives, and some pesto.  All had a bit of polenta left from a previous dinner, and some pecorino. Thus my “adapted” Cherry Tomato Puttanesca with Pancetta was inspired.  

My adapted version is different from typical puttanesca in several ways.  First, of course, is using the small tomatoes.  But I also use pancetta here instead of anchovies.  The salty pork adds a different flavor than the salty fish — but both are wonderful.    I don’t ‘normally’ do it but I also used a prepared pesto here to add my ‘herbs’. This is a convenience, and based on what I had on hand.  In a different season, I would have used fresh herbs.  

So if you find yourself looking for a meal, and only have a handful of small tomatoes, this is a great place to start. Give it a try!

Cherry Tomato Puttanesca with Pancetta

Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: Caper, Olive, Tomato
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Print Recipe


  • 2 oz Pancetta diced (or 3 slices of bacon, diced)⁠
  • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil⁠
  • 1 large clove garlic arge chop⁠
  • 1/2 c onion chopped⁠
  • 1 pint Grape or Cherry tomatoes. ⁠
  • 1 TBS prepared pesto⁠
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine⁠
  • 2 TBS Capers⁠
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives cut in half⁠
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste⁠
  • Pasta or Polenta to serve over⁠
  • Pecorino cheese for topping


  • While preparing the puttanesca, make pasta (or polenta) in a separate pot⁠
  • Cut about 2/3 of tomatoes in half. Leave the rest whole⁠
  • Heat a medium sized skillet over medium low heat⁠
  • Add diced pancetta and allow to cook slowly until crispy and fat is rendered⁠
  • Remove pancetta and set aside on a paper towel covered plate⁠
  • Add olive oil and turn heat up to medium high⁠
  • Add the garlic and onions to the pan and cook stirring occasionally until softened, about 4 – 5 mins⁠
  • Add cherry tomatoes to the pan and toss to combine with onions and garlic⁠
  • Cook until tomatoes are softened and beginning to give up their juices⁠
  • Add red wine, scrape bottom of pan to release any browned bits, and bring to a simmer⁠
  • Cook until liquids reduce by about half⁠
  • Add the pesto and stir to combine into tomato mixture⁠
  • Lower heat and add capers. Cook for about 1 min, stirring frequently⁠
  • Add olives and reserved pancetta and stir to combine. Cook for 1 more min until everything is heated through⁠
  • Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste⁠
  • Serve over prepared pasta (or polenta) and top with Pecorino

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