There have been exactly three times my entire life when I have ordered an entrée at an Italian restaurant that was not pasta. Seriously. The first time was chicken spiedini. Then, it was veal saltimbocca. The last time was pork osso bucco. While all three meals were very good, I found myself wishing I had ordered some type of pasta instead.
It used to be that pasta was a staple around my house. And then, my family turned into carb-conscious health nuts. Well, my entire family besides me. But, as I’m known to do, I started having pasta withdrawals. So, here’s my fix: spaghetti all’amatriciana. Sounds kind of fancy, right? And fancy foods are usually difficult to make, right? Wrong. This dish is super easy to pull together on a busy weeknight, but it’s nice enough to make your weekend meal, too!
(This whole fancy name dilemma got me thinking. Have you ever noticed how restaurants can charge so much more money when the name sounds more gourmet… or is in a different language all together? Would you spend more money on French toast or Pain Perdu? How about Spaghetti All’Amatriciana or Spaghetti with Pancetta, Tomatoes, and Onions?)
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 6 Servings
6 oz. pancetta or bacon, sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes in juice
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. spaghetti or bucatini
½ c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (2 oz.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Bring a large skillet to medium heat. Add pancetta (or bacon) and cook until crisp, about 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towels to drain. Do not remove grease from skillet. (There should be about 2 tbsp. grease remaining. If there is not, add olive oil until there is a total of 2 tbsp. fat in the pan).
Add onion and garlic to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent and garlic is golden brown.
At this point, you can add your pasta into the boiling water. Drain after about 9 minutes, until pasta is al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.
Meanwhile, add canned tomatoes and red pepper flakes to skillet. Break tomatoes up a bit in the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce begins to thicken.. Add pasta to the skillet and toss. If needed, add reserved pasta water to loosen the pasta up a bit and allow the sauce to adhere better.
Top pasta with reserved pancetta (or bacon) and grated cheese.