Living in Italy from 2010-2012 gave me a great love for cooking – mainly pasta. Before going there, I knew only how to make toast and anything that came in a can. But being tutored by my Italian colleagues, and eating in beautiful Italian homes, I learned a few things and some really tasty recipes that I want to share with you. Thanks also to Ivan Sapio and Maria Piccolo Esposito who taught me the majority of what I’ve learned.
PASTA ALL’AMATRICIANA (recipe for 4)
- 1 pound (or about 500 grams) of BUCATINI (long hollow spaghetti noodles) – Do NOT break them!!!
- 1 can of WHOLE PEELED TOMATOES (793 grams/28 oz)
- Circa 120 grams of PANCETTA (if unavailable substitute bacon strips cut into small cubes – peppered bacon is tasty)
- 1 large PURPLE ONION (some people call ’em red onions I guess) the flavor of the sautéed purple onion is essential – don’t use substitute
- 4 tablespoons of EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
- Fist full of grated PECORINO ROMANO cheese (can be found in most specialty cheese sections of an average grocery store)
- 4-7 Fresh Basil Leaves
- Pour the peeled tomatoes into a non cooking bowl and crush them or blend them.
- Cut the onion à la julienne and sauté it in a medium/large frying pan until lightly golden. (Pan must be large enough to hold entirety of the sauce and noodles)
- Add the Pancetta and let it cook for a little over a minute.
- Add the basil leaves after ripping them into large pieces.
- Add the peeled tomatoes into the frying pan add two pinches of salt (add a touch of pepper if the Pancetta/Bacon did not come peppered) – let cook for about five minutes.
- Liberally salt the water in which you will cook the noodles (a little more than a tablespoon). Taste the water before it gets too hot. You should be able to notice the salty taste in the water
. Remember that the noodles must taste as good as the sauce – the sauce doesn’t do all of the work here!
- Cook the Bucatini noodles for two-three minutes less than indicated on the bag (I cook them for about seven minutes) then strain the noodles (do not wet them with tap water) and add the noodles into the sauce pan and have them cook the remainder of the time in the sauce. *I always have the tap running cold water while I strain the noodles so that the boiling water doesn’t damage any plumbing – I don’t know if that’s necessary, but that’s what the Italians told me. Just don’t get that water on the noodles*
- When finished the pasta should be al dente and you can pour the whole thing into a nice serving bowl. Add the grated cheese at that time. Mix it in really well. Consider covering the pasta to help the cheese melt while you wait to have everyone seated and served!