A Roman Dish from the Pantry

Book of the Month: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


The first time I had spaghetti all’amatriciana was during my study abroad in Rome. It was one of the first few days there and we didn’t want to wander far because of jet lag and the late hour. I settled down with my roommate and a two other girls at a restaurant a block down from our hotel at some charming outdoor tables. Soon we were joined by another group also trying to find dinner.

Suddenly, the subdued group became rambunctious and we were all fast friends. However, this spaghetti was almost enough to stop that from happening. You see, I was the one who ordered it. I had recommended gnocchi and pesto to someone else but anything with pancetta catches my eye.

When it came to the table, the smell was fantastic. And then it happened. Other people wanted to try it. In a group of 7, that leaves a lot less for the person that ordered. I had to console myself with the thought that we could come back again.

A week later we returned to find that the restaurant had closed. This began my attempts to recreate that magical meal.

Fortunately, it is easily recreated from pantry staples. Or at least, staples in my house where bacon is not so much a topping but a flavor profile!

Spaghetti all’Amatriciana
Adapted from numerous Italian cookbooks, conversations, and much testing

bacon, 5-6 slices chopped
1 onion, cut into half-moons
28 oz tomato puree
salt and pepper
1 lb spaghetti, preferably rigatti or bucatini
Parmesan cheese to serve

In a saucepan, saute bacon until lightly golden. Add sliced onions and cook until soft. Add tomatoes and simmer 10 minutes. Season to taste.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook spaghetti according to the directions on the box.

Combine spaghetti and sauce. Serve with lots of Parmesan and a nice glass of wine!



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Filed under Italian, Pasta

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