This simple pasta recipe for Amatriciana straight out of Italy combines tomato sauce, black pepper, and bacon for a simple but unforgettable meal!
Summer 2019, it finally happened: Eurotrip! Husband and I went to Paris, Nice, Berlin, and Rome. I loved them all. For all the pics and recs and things, head over to my Instagram account and check out the highlights.
Whenever you come back from a trip like this, people say, “What was your favorite place?!” and it’s really hard to come up with an answer. I go back and forth between Paris and Rome and don’t say anything all that interesting.
But when people ask what the best thing I ate was, it’s unequivocal: amatriciana. Our very first night of #Eurotrip, in Rome, at a restaurant we stopped at on the way to the restaurant we were planning to go to.
What is Amatriciana?
Amatriciana is a pasta usually made with rigatoni or bucatini pasta, but I wanted to use fresh pasta and fettuccine was what my little market had on hand that day. Ultimately, you want something a little sturdy – no angel hair, here.
The sauce is simple: a basic red sauce, thick cut bacon, parmesan, and, the most important part, lots of black pepper. Black pepper + bacon = a match made in heaven. You want enough pepper that this dish is practically spicy.
What should I pair Amatriciana with?
Pair it with a bold Italian wine, and you’ve got yourself a meal. No one is stopping you from making some simple focaccia or a warm brussels sprouts caesar, either.
Watch it before you make it.
Recap: 3 keys to perfect Amatriciana
- The right pasta shape. Rigatoni or bucatini are best, but just make sure it’s sturdy! Bonus points if you can get your hands on fresh pasta.
- Thick cut bacon. Make it easy on yourself and go right to the butcher counter in your store. Ask for ends or to cut it thick. My favorite bacon to use is ends and pieces from Porter Road.
- Be generous with the black pepper. You want the dish to practically taste spicy with black pepper! Don’t be afraid to go big.
You can also view this recipe as a step-by-step web story here.
Get the Recipe:
- 16 oz pasta of choice, fresh bucatini or rigatoni recommended
- 8 oz thick cut plain bacon, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce, or 3 cups of your favorite marinara
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan for serving
- Black pepper for serving
- In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy and fat is rendered. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Wipe the pan out with a paper towel.
- In the same saucepan, bring the tomato sauce to a simmer over low heat. Add kosher salt, garlic powder, and tomato paste. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- Add the cooked bacon, parmesan, and black pepper to the sauce. Let simmer gently until cheese is melted. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions to very al dente. Reserve 1/3 cup pasta water before draining.
- Add the pasta water to the sauce and stir to combine. Add the cooked but al dente pasta to the sauce immediately and toss in the sauce. Continue cooking until sauce is well coated.
- Remove from heat and serve with additional parmesan and black pepper.
- Use a sturdy pasta, like bucatini or rigatoni. Nothing “wimpy” like angel hair!
- Use a thick cut bacon. Ask your butcher to cut you some or give you ends and pieces!
- Use plenty of black pepper, don’t be afraid!