We have just two weeks before we leave Umbria and our season here is over for yet another year. As we begin to close things up, I am doing my best to use up some of the perishable food products in my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. One thing I have a lot of is onions as we bought a couple of bags of Cannara onions at a recent festival we attended. These onions are lovely, and cook up nice and sweet. One of the pasta dishes they serve at the festival is a simple onion and pancetta pasta dish on penne. It is really a delicious dish as the onions become very sweet as they are slowly fried and caramelized, and go really well with the salty pancetta. I had a big chunk of guanciale, which is an unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig’s jowl or cheeks in my refrigerator so I used this in place of the pancetta. Either will work well, and if pancetta is difficult to find, you can even substitute bacon although the flavor will be a little different. I used strangozzi pasta in my dish as I had a few bags of that in my pantry as well, but this “sauce” works well on both short pasta types such as penne or fusilli, as well as long pasta such as spaghetti.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 4 Small To Medium Sweet Onions, Peeled
- 1/2 Cup Diced Guanciale or Pancetta
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 Pound Pasta Of Choice (See Above)
- 1/3 Cup Fresh, Chopped Parsley
- Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese
- Slice the onions in half, and then in 1/2 inch slices.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions and cook over low heat about 20 minutes or until the onions are lightly browned and soft.
- Remove the onions and add the guanciale or pancetta to the pan and cook over medium heat until browned and beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes.
- Return the onions to the frying pan with the guanciale and mix.
- Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the chopped parsley.
- Cook your pasta of choice until it is "al dente".
- Drain, reserving a small cup of the pasta water.
- Return the pasta to the pot and add the onion mixture.
- Over medium heat toss the pasta with the onion mixture adding a little of the pasta water.
- Serve in individual bowls, offering grated cheese at the table.