Pasta with Bacon-Peanut-Tomato Sauce

I have always been a peanut-aholic. In fact, rare, expensive, chalky, substandard peanut butter was one of the harder things to get used to when I lived in Italy. Only in recent years, however, have I discovered just how well peanuts pair with tomatoes. Throw bacon in and this becomes an if-this-is-wrong-I-don't-wanna-be-right kind of sauce.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 15 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for boiling the pasta

12 ounces strozzapreti, fresh or dried

12 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 leek, trimmed and rinsed carefully, white part sliced into 1/8-inch rings

1 pound grape tomatoes

2/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup dry or amontillado sherry

3/4 cup hot, starchy pasta water

2 loosely packed cups pea sprouts or other tender greens

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package's directions.
  2. Fry the bacon in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until the edges begin to crisp, about 5 minutes. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
  3. Stir in the leek and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, peanuts, thyme, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the sherry and scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. When the sherry has nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes, add the pasta water and bring to a blustering boil for 1 minute.
  4. Remove from the heat. Drain the pasta. Carefully add the pasta and gently toss. Serve immediately, topping each portion with a handful of pea sprouts. 
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