Is there anything more life affirming than a simple pasta made with fresh ingredients, shared with a loved one, a bottle of red wine, and lingered over on a warm, breezy Canadian summer evening in early July? It is truly an experience unto it’s own, however for me it evokes memories of pastas savored in sunny Rome on my first and hopefully not last visit.
Bucatini all’Amatriciana is a classic Roman dish. Simplicity at it’s finest. Prep time is short. Throw a few ingredients into a pan and while the sauce burbles happily, start to cook your pasta and before your rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond is finished you will have dinner. Uncork some red wine, grate some fresh pecorino and head out to your sunny deck or patio. Enjoy.
Because this dish is so simple and boasts few ingredients, the quality of those ingredients is important. I use only San Marzano tomatoes. They are grown in Italy in volcanic soil, imparting a richness not found in most canned tomato varieties. Generally they are around $4.50 a can, but remember they are the star of this particular show. Be aware that San Marzano “Style” tomatoes are the same tomato but not grown in Italian soil and are cheaper. A subtle difference, but we are trying to recreate memories of Rome. To save time, I use President’s Choice diced pancetta. You can use any long pasta, but bucatini, a long, hollow, straw-like, slurpy pasta, is traditional and available even in regular grocery stores so why not try it?
Source: Chow (adapted)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped, 1 cup
4 ounces pancetta, cubed
1 28 ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, coarsely chopped with juices
1 1/2 tbsp red chili flakes
1 pound bucatini or pasta
pecorino cheese, for serving
3 tbsp parsley, chopped, garnish
1. Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden, 3-5 minutes. Add pancetta and cook until slightly crisp, 3 minutes more.
2. Add tomatoes and their juices. Add chilli flakes, salt to taste and reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta. Drain pasta but do not rinse, add to frying pan, and toss to coat. Add pasta water to thin if necessary.
4. Serve with grated Pecorino.
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