Bucatini alla Amatriciana is a staple in and around Rome and the type of dish Italian college kids cook when they miss Mama’s cooking. The beauty of the dish is that just a few strips of bacon infuse an entire pot of pasta with a rich, meaty flavor, cut perfectly by the sweet of the tomatoes and the heat of the pepper flakes. No fatty sausage links, greasy ground beef, or fist-size meatballs are necessary for this spaghetti recipe.
370 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 560 mg sodium
4 strips bacon
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more depending upon your heat preference)
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste
10 oz bucatini or spaghetti
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
How to Make It
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until the fat is mostly rendered, about 5 minutes.
- Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the onion, garlic, and pepper flakes to the pan. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion has begun to lightly brown.
- Add the tomatoes and season with salt and lots of black pepper. Bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente (usually about 30 seconds to a minute less than the package instructions recommend).
- Drain the pasta and add directly to the simmering tomato sauce.
- Stir together so that the sauce and noodles are evenly incorporated.
- Stir in the parsley.
- Divide among four warm pasta bowls, and top with freshly grated cheese.
Eat This! Tip
One of the most magical ingredients in the kitchen is also one of the most overlooked: the murky water you discard when draining pasta. The cloudiness is the result of starches released from the surface of the noodles, and even a few tablespoons can help you create a silky sauce that better sticks to the pasta. Before draining the noodles, dip a coffee mug into the water and fish out a few ounces of liquid. Toss the pasta directly in the pan with the sauce, and if the noodles look dry, add the reserved water a tablespoon at a time until the sauce loosens and clings lightly to the pasta.