|Pasta with Amatriciana Sauce (Morris Lamont/QMI Agency)
Pasta dishes are a much-loved, cool-weather fare.
My fondest memories of Sunday dinner as a child are when my mother would have a pot of meatballs and sauce on the simmer all day long. The smells were so tantalizing that we could hardly wait for dinner.
Luckily there are many pasta dishes that can go together quickly, yet yield the same great flavour of a long-simmered sauce.
One such sauce is amatriciana.
The richness comes from pancetta which is a cured Italian bacon, readily available at deli and meat counters. This sauce is often served with a fairly thick tubular pasta such as bucatini, but spaghetti works just fine, as does a short pasta if you’d prefer.
The cheese to use for this hearty sauce is pecorino Romano, which is a tangy and salty sheep’s milks cheese.
Pour a glass of rustic red wine and it’s a fantastic weekend meal that doesn’t take all day to prepare.
Pasta with Amatriciana Sauce
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter
1 cooking onion, diced
* 1/4 inch slice of pancetta, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) red chili flakes
1/4 c. (50 ml) white wine
1 -28 oz. (796 ml) can of Italian plum tomatoes
1 lb. (500 g) dried pasta such bucatini or spaghetti
1/2 c. (125 ml) grated Romano cheese
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften.
3. Add the pancetta and cook until starting to turn golden and crispy.
4. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook a further minute.
5. Add the white wine and tomatoes, breaking the tomatoes up with a spoon.
6. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Season with salt to taste. (Keep in mind the cheese will add some saltiness).
7. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until just al dente.
8. Drain well and return to the pot. Add the sauce and ½ of the cheese and toss well.
9. Transfer to a pasta bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.
* for a smokier sauce I use a combination of pancetta and diced smoked bacon