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The BLT gets an Italian makeover

How about a pasta variation on your BLT?

A simple but very good offering with a playful tie-in to the favorite bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich, with an Italian flavor, comes from Good Housekeeping 100 Best Pasta Recipes (Hearst, $14.95).

First, for those occasions when the hungry are breathing down the cook's neck, note that the recipe takes only about 30 minutes start to finish.

Second, note the switches in ingredients: Pasta replaces the bread, arugula replaces lettuce and pancetta replaces the bacon.

A "kitchen tip" in the book explains that pancetta, an Italian bacon, is cured in a mixture of salt and spices, but unlike American bacon, it is not smoked, so its flavor is milder. It is sold in Italian markets, specialty meat shops and large supermarkets. If you can't find it, use bacon.

The book is a great value: It's large format, with plenty of full-page color photos.

Radiatore With Arugula, Tomatoes and Pancetta

16-ounce package radiatore or corkscrew pasta


4 ounces sliced pancetta or bacon, cut into \-inch pieces

1 garlic clove, crushed with garlic press

16-ounce container cherry tomatoes, each cut into quarters

\ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

8 ounces arugula, tough stems removed

\ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: about 15 minutes.

In a large pan, prepare pasta in boiling salted water as label directs.

Meanwhile, in a 10-inch skillet, cook the pancetta over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. (If using bacon, discard all but 1 tablespoon fat.) Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring. Add tomatoes, pepper and \ teaspoon salt, and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; cover and keep warm.

Drain the pasta; return to saucepan. Add pancetta mixture, arugula and grated Parmesan cheese; toss well. Garnish with shredded Parmesan.

Makes 4 main-dish servings, or 8 accompaniment servings.