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“BBLT” Pasta – Bacon, Basil Leaf & Tomato Pasta with Olive & Manchego Breadsticks

Renée Robinson

Pasta with Fresh Uncooked Tomato Sauce Topped with Bacon? Yeah. It’s Really Good.

When tomatoes are good and ripe, I don’t feel there is any need to cook them when putting together a pasta sauce. Uncooked tomato sauces have been around forever and I’ve been making them for a long time. But after seeing a friend post an article from Cook’s Illustrated that suggested adding a surprising ingredient to a tomato in order to boost its flavor, I thought I’d give it a try in my recipe – cream of tartar. Seeing as it’s an acid, it made sense, but I was truly stunned at what it did for my tomatoes. I carefully tasted them before and after and there is an enormous difference in flavor.

Many times, I’ve added a little hit of vinegar or lemon juice in order to achieve the proper balance of acid, but the cream of tartar works better than the either of those when it comes to tomatoes. It doesn’t add any additional flavor of any kind, except acid, and it made my tomatoes really come alive. I was very careful and only added it bit by bit to make sure I didn’t use too much. After all, I didn’t want the acid to overpower, I simply wanted it to balance out the overall flavor of the tomatoes. I then added some aromatics, olive oil, a little sugar, hot pepper flakes, and basil leaves, and set it aside to work its magic on the tomatoes while I finished preparing the rest of the dish. 

I find that thinly sliced, rather than thickly sliced bacon works best for this recipe. It’s more delicately crisp. I baked it for about 25 minutes on a couple of sheet pans at 375°. After boiling and draining the pasta, I stirred it into the tomatoes, added the grated cheese and let it sit for a couple of minutes. The pasta will absorb almost all the tomato juices. Top it with the bacon pieces and you’ll have yourself an incredibly flavored dish of pasta.

The breadsticks come from Paul Hollywood’s new cookbook, BAKE: My Best Recipes Ever for the Classics. Now, who doesn’t love a good breadstick, right? I have previously made Paul’s original recipe for these which were simply ciabatta dough and a large amount of olives. I think they’re the best breadsticks I’ve ever tasted. Nothing but really good crusty ciabatta stuffed with a ton of olives. They have a crude and rustic look to them because there’s no way you’re going to achieve an elegant looking breadstick with all those bulging olives, and I think the appearance added greatly to their appeal.

Here they are right after placing them on the baking sheet.


And here they are after brushing them with water and sprinkling on grated parmesan.

This time around Paul has added a large amount of diced manchego cheese, along with a very generous topping of grated parmesan. In fact, I cut back on the amounts of both because I think in this case, there really is too much of a good thing, and the end result proved me correct, as far as my personal taste goes. They are delicious and didn’t lack in cheese flavor at all.  To use Paul’s own words, these are, “moreish” in flavor.

So, if you’re in the mood for some cheesy olive breadsticks, this recipe will fit the bill. The recipes I found online aren’t identical to the one in his book, but they’re close. The only real difference is that the one in the book doesn’t have onions or coriander and he adds plenty of grated parmesan to the tops of the breadsticks after lightly brushing them with water after they’re formed. Other than that, the recipes are the same. I will include a link at the end of my recipe in the Notes Section. ,

"BBLT" Pasta - Bacon, Basil Leaf & Tomato Pasta with Olive & Manchego Breadsticks

Recipe by Renée Robinson



Fresh uncooked tomato sauce bathes the pasta, which is then topped with crisp bacon and parmesan. Then add some of Paul Hollywood's Olive and Manchego Breadsticks and you've got yourself a feast.

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  • 1 1/2 pounds fully ripe fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped

  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt

  • Several grinds of black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more depending on your taste

  • 1 large shallot minced

  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely minced

  • Large handful of basil leaves, chopped

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound casarecce or any short pasta shape

  • 3/4 cup (75 grams) grated parmesan

  • 1 pound thinly sliced bacon


  • In a large bowl combine the tomatoes and next 9 ingredients. Set aside for at least a half hour.
  • In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375° and cook the bacon on a couple of sheet pans for about 25 minutes, until nice and crisp. Removed the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and let cool until easily handled. Break into bite sized pieces.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and add to the bowl of tomatoes. Toss in the parmesan and stir well. Serve with a few slices of crumbled bacon on top. Enjoy!


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