Cavatelli with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Pancetta and Burrata

This is a delicious end of summer pasta with a great combination of flavors - sweet tomatoes, salty pancetta and creamy burrata. It's a rustic treat for the palate.

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A blue bowl of cavatelli pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes, pancetta and burrata on a wooden table.

Rustic and Savory Summer Pasta

I am not going to even try to suggest this delicious cavatelli with roasted cherry tomatoes, pancetta and burrata is a light dish. It’s not really possible with those decadent ingredients, but there is something about it that feels light and carefree. It has a rustic feeling – the roasted cherry tomatoes start to break down a little and get messy; the pancetta crisps and curls in an irregular fashion; and the burrata, stirred in at the end turns the dish into a creamy tangle of ingredients. It will make you want to eat with abandon and you won’t regret it.

Cavatelli pasta spilling out of a bag on a marble counter.

What is Cavatelli?

Cavatelli is a semolina pasta shape. My favorite description of it suggests that it looks like little hot dog buns. It’s not the most common shape to find in grocery stores in its dried form, but check the freezer section. Some cavatelli is made with ricotta cheese mixed in and sold either fresh or frozen. You can use any type of cavatelli for this recipe – dried, fresh or frozen. If you can’t find cavatelli of any kind, any shape will do although I think a smaller pasta (as opposed to long pasta) adds to the rustic feel of the dish.

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Ingredients on a counter - pancetta, parmesan cheese, oregano, pasta, burrata, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, shallots and basil.

Pancetta

The ingredients in this pasta dish are Italian to the core and not too difficult to find, but there are easy substitutes for them if you can’t find one or two. It starts with pancetta, an Italian bacon that is cured, but not smoked. You could substitute regular bacon if you like. 

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Roasted cherry tomatoes on a sheet pan on a marble counter.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

These cherry tomatoes are a treat – almost like candy. You can read more about roasting them and how to use them in different forms here. This recipe calls for a lot of these little gems because they are the main ingredient in the pasta. You might decide not to use them all, but don’t worry – they won’t go to waste. You’ll find yourself snacking on them and they’ll be gone in a moment.

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Cavatelli pasta with cherry tomatoes and pancetta in a skillet.

Easy Skillet Dinner

If you’re good at multi-tasking, you can roast the tomatoes while the pasta water comes to a boil, sauté the pancetta while the pasta cooks and then throw everything into the skillet for a toss together. I can’t call it a one pot meal because you do use other pots and pans in the process, but it all comes together in one skillet at the end.

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Burrata broken open and being spooned out with a spoon.

What is Burrata?

Burrata is a cow’s milk cheese that looks a lot like a ball of fresh mozzarella. The outside of the ball is actually made from fresh mozzarella, but in the center of the ball is a mix of stringy cheese and cream, creating a delicious liquid-y surprise inside. Cut the burrata open once the pasta has been served in bowls and then scoop out a nice spoonful for each serving. If you can’t find burrata, you could substitute some fresh ricotta cheese and dollop that on at the end instead.

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A spoon lifting cavatelli with roasted cherry tomatoes out of a bowl.

Enjoy it Your Way

The rest is up to the individual. Some people like to stir the burrata into the cavatelli with cherry tomatoes, making a creamy sauce. Others (me) prefer to spoon up some pasta and burrata a little at a time, keeping each bite interesting. You do you.

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Cavatelli with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Pancetta and Burrata

  • Prep Time: 30 m
  • Cook Time: 10 m
  • Total Time: 40 m
  • Servings:
    4

Ingredients

  • 4 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 4 shallots sliced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6 to 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pounds fresh or frozen cavatelli OR 1 pound dried cavatelli pasta
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces burrata cheese
  • fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Toss the cherry tomatoes, shallots and oregano with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Stir in the basil leaves, tearing any large leaves in half. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Place the tomatoes onto a baking sheet in one layer and transfer the sheet to the oven. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes start to burst open, stirring halfway through the cooking time.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook your pasta according to package directions if using dried pasta. If you are using frozen or fresh cavatelli, add the pasta to the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes, until the cavatelli floats to the surface. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the cavatelli. (Do not rinse.)
  5. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook until it is crispy. Discard some of the fat, leaving at least 1 tablespoon in the pan. Lower the heat and add the roasted tomatoes and shallots, along with any juices from the sheet pan. Add the cooked pasta, Parmesan cheese and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss everything together in the pan, adding more pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce.
  6. Transfer the pasta to serving bowls. Cut open the burrata and spoon a big dollop of the cheese on each serving. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper. Top with a chiffonade of fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.
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