Main Course,  Recipes

Salty, Peppery, Porky Goodness-Penne Pasta with Pancetta, Eggplant, Peppers & Pesto

Sometimes I plan dinner, sometimes it’s a clean-out-the-fridge meal. Tonight is the latter. It makes me think of when I was a chef and I’d go into the kitchen’s walk-in refrigerator, look around at what was there, and plan the day’s special. Sometimes you just have to work with what’s on hand.

  This pasta is one of those I’ve never made before (but made many similar), and may never make again unless I have this exact mix of ingredients. Of course, you can substitute, leave out, or add anything you like. If you leave out the Pancetta, you may need a little extra salt. You can replace with another protein, like chicken breast, or make it vegetarian and leave it out altogether. But honestly, I love the salty, peppery, porkiness of Pancetta.
I added the mozzarella because I had a little left in the container and wanted to use it up. You can replace it with another cheese, or leave it out. I added the tomatoes because they were starting to look a little wrinkled in the ‘fridge (don’t say “ewwww” you know it happens to you too). If you don’t have pesto, you could use olive oil and fresh basil, or even a tomato sauce. I added the eggplant because I love eggplant and buy one almost every time I go to the store. Mushrooms and onions are staples and I almost always have them.

Penne Pasta with Pancetta, Eggplant, Peppers & Pesto

Penne Pasta with Pancetta, Eggplant, Peppers & Pesto
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pasta, pork
Servings: 4 Servings


  • 5 oz package of diced Pancetta
  • 1/2 each red bell pepper sliced thin
  • 1/2 each half eggplant 1" diced
  • 1/2 each onion sliced thin
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole small cherry tomatoes
  • 3 oz fresh mini mozzarella balls
  • 2 oz homemade pesto
  • 1 lb penne pasta


  • Start a pot of water for the pasta and when it boils, cook the pasta while cooking the sauce in another pan. When the pasta is done, drain and set aside.
  • In a large saute pan or wok, cook the pancetta until crisp and remove from the pan. Reserve the rendered fat in the pan and add in the peppers, onions, and mushrooms (you can discard the fat and cook in olive oil, but the pancetta fat is so much tastier). Cook the vegetables until they are soft and remove onto a plate.
  • Add 1 Tbsp oil to the pan and add the eggplant. Cook until browned and add the garlic, cook 1 min.
  • Add the other cooked vegetables back to the pan and mix. Add the whole cherry tomatoes and toss to combine. Add in the pesto and fresh mozzarella. Mix in the pasta.


If you're looking for a recipe for homemade pesto, go here.


Make my day! Leave a comment.