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Spaghetti all’Amatriciana is a simple pasta dish with wonderful, zesty flavors. Cook this world-famous meal for dinner tonight – it takes just minutes and a few key ingredients!
Spaghetti all’Amatriciana is very flavorful, tomato-based pasta dish with a gentle kick of heat in every zesty bite.
This dish starts with spaghetti or bucatini pasta that is tossed in a simple sauce (aka sugo) made with cured pork cheek, San Marzano tomatoes, Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly cracked black pepper, and dried red pepper flakes.
Spaghetti all’Amatriciana originates from the town of Amatrice in central Italy. Every year, Amatrice hosts the Sagra deglie Pasta all’Amatriciana on the last weekend of August to celebrate this famous recipe. People travel from all over the world to taste a bite of this classic dish in its original glory – it’s that delicious!
Why you’ll love Spaghetti all’Amatriciana
- The combination of flavors from a few simple ingredients are indescribably delicious!
- From start to finish, this dish comes together in just thirty minutes.
- It’s memorable enough for a dinner party, but easy enough for a quick weeknight dinner.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Pasta – While we used spaghetti in our recipe today, bucatini – a thicker spaghetti-like noodle with a hole through the middle – is the traditional choice for pasta all’Amatriciana. The hollow bucatini noodle is both coated and filled with the delicious sauce.
- Guanciale – This is cured pork jowls, seasoned with salt and a variety spices, then air-dried for several weeks. It has an incredible, fatty texture that melts as it cooks and imparts wonderful flavor to this dish. Guanciale is often sold in slices in the specialty meat section or deli of some supermarkets. While the flavor won’t be quite as bold, a good-quality pancetta could be used instead.
- Tomatoes – San Marzano tomatoes are a must for this dish. They have the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavor, plus the acidity to balance the richness of the fatty guanciale. Buy canned whole, peeled tomatoes and crush them by hand, or with a potato masher.
- Spices – Both cracked black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes add zesty flavor and a touch of spicy heat.
- White wine – Choose a dry white wine such as Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. For an alcohol-free version, substitute an equal amount of chicken stock.
- Cheese – Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. While it’s similar in texture to Parmesan cheese, the flavors are different enough that you’ll really want to use a Pecorino cheese in this dish.
Special supplies needed
- Large pot to cook the pasta
- Wide, deep skillet
- Tongs – to transfer pasta to the skillet
How do I make Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana?
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil as you start cooking the sauce.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet, then sauté the guanciale and red pepper flakes until lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with white wine, scraping up any browned bits, then simmer until the wine evaporates.
- Add crushed tomatoes to the skillet, and heat back to a simmer, seasoning to taste.
- Salt the boiling pasta water, then add the spaghetti, cooking for about 1 minute less than the package instructions.
- Use tongs to transfer the pasta to the skillet along with some of the starchy pasta water.
- Toss the pasta and sauce constantly until well coated and thickened.
- Remove skillet from the heat and sprinkle in the Pecorino, tossing again until well incorporated.
- Serve your Spaghetti all‘Amatriciana immediately with extra cheese on top.
Chef’s Tip – Hold off on adding the pasta to the cooking water until you have started your sauce – you don’t want to overcook the spaghetti! If you are unsure about timing, you can wait until the sauce is almost done so the spaghetti isn’t overcooked.
Frequently Asked Questions
What goes well with Spaghetti all’Amatriciana? Keep your sides light – a simple green salad and some crusty bread to soak up the sauce are all your meal needs.
Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned? Yes, but you will need to blanch and peel the tomatoes first. If you can’t get your hands on fresh San Marzano tomatoes, then Roma tomatoes would be our second choice – but we would still recommend canned San Marzano tomatoes instead.
Is there onion in Pasta all’Amatriciana? Traditionally, no, but some Roman versions of this recipe add both onions and garlic.
How do I store leftovers? Transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for 2-3 days. Save some of the pasta water too for reheating
What’s the best way to reheat this dish? Reheat your Pasta all’Amatriciana on the stove over low heat until warmed through. Add some leftover starchy water from cooking the spaghetti (if you saved it) and add a few splashes to loosen the sauce. Or, use a little chicken stock instead.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces guanciale(or a good quality pancetta), cut into thin strips about 1/4-inch by 3/4-inch
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 28-ounce can whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1 ounce Pecorino cheese (if using Pecorino Romano, use less salt for seasoning), plus more for serving
- Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil on the stove in preparation for cooking the pasta.
- While the pasta water heats up, add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add guanciale (or pancetta) and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and cooked through – approximately 5 minutes.
- Add white wine and simmer, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the wine evaporates, about 3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and heat to a gentle simmer.
- As the pasta water comes to a boil, begin cooking the spaghetti. Cook until just shy of al dente – about 1 minute less than the cooking time on your box of pasta. Once cooked, using tongs, transfer spaghetti to the skillet of sauce and ladle in ¼ cup of the water used to cook the pasta.
- Turn up the heat under the pasta and sauce and cook, tossing constantly until the sauce thickens and coats the spaghetti.
- Remove skillet from the heat and sprinkle in the Pecorino, tossing the pasta again so that the cheese is mixed throughout. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately with additional cheese over the top.
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