I love Amatriciana pasta with it’s delicious combination of sweet onions, hot chili peppers and salty pancetta flavored tomato sauce. This pasta is very popular in Rome as the town of Amatrice where this pasta originated is only 50 miles away. I was craving this pasta the other night and decided to use up some of my basketful of ripe, fragrant cherry tomatoes instead of the the usual chopped canned tomatoes and it turned out beautifully. I cooked the tomatoes just enough to soften them without letting them turn to mush which helped to retain their natural sweetness and added a nice texture to the dish of pasta. Again, this is a pasta sauce that can be put together while you are boiling the water and cooking the pasta so it lends itself to busy weekday meals very nicely. I used a short dried pasta in my dish, but honestly this sauce would be great on just about any pasta. If you cannot find true Italian pancetta, ordinary bacon would work as well. Just be careful not to add additional salt to the sauce before tasting it, as both pancetta and bacon are quite salty themselves.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 1 Small Sweet Onion, Peeled & Chopped
- 4 Ounces Diced Pancetta (Or Bacon)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Finely Sliced
- 1 Fresh Red Hot Chili Pepper, Finely Minced
- 1 Pound Cherry Tomatoes, Chopped
- 3/4 Pound Short Dried Pasta Such As Penne
- Salt & Pepper (See Warning Above)
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley, Divided
- Pecorino Cheese
- Place a large pot of salted water on to boil.
- While waiting on the water, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and add the onions, pancetta and chili pepper and cook over medium low heat until the onions are soft and the pancetta is no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute or two until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, half the parsley, and some black pepper and cook for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.
- Taste and adjust salt as needed.
- Keep warm over low heat.
- Cook the pasta in the boiling water until it is al dente.
- Retain a small cup of pasta water and add a tablespoon or two to the sauce if it seems to thick.
- Drain the pasta and toss it together with the sauce.
- Serve immediately offering grated pecorino cheese at the table.