This dish, “Angry Pasta,” many consider a Roman dish, but we found it on the menu in a southern Tuscany hill town and it was love at first bite. The simplicity of the dish appealed to me and I adapted it for a quick weeknight dinner, or a splendid first course (in which case this will serve 8 people). We joked with Rune that this was “his” dish, for the sultry look he tried to adapt, which came off more angry than sultry!
6 ounces pancetta, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
28 ounces canned tomatoes, chopped or 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound bucatini dried pasta (perciatelli pasta can also be used)
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more to pass at the table
Freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium flame. Add the diced pancetta and cook, stirring, until the fat is rendered and the pancetta almost crisp. Add the diced onion to the pancetta and cook until soft. Mix in the tomatoes and chili flakes and season with salt to taste. Turn the heat to medium-low and allow the flavors to mix, stirring occasionally. After about ten or fifteen minutes, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta. Stir the 1/2 cup Pecorino cheese into the sauce, turn off the flame, and mix in the pasta. Add a small amount of pasta water, if needed to moisten. Transfer the pasta and sauce to a warmed serving bowl. Allow each person to add additional Pecorino Romano and freshly ground pepper to his or her taste.
Serve with a dry Italian red wine and imagine Rune and his sultry look!