Made this for dinner twice so far, and the second time it tasted even better. Cheesey and smokey works so well together in a rich tomato sauce:D Regina Schrambling says "starch is comfort" and "cheese is seduction" and when they're combined the result is pure pleasure. BF and I have to agree wholeheartedly. I can usually only find crushed tomatoes in puree, and that worked out very well so I added that as an option. I am vegetarian so I substituted vegetarian bacon for pancetta. Another recipe of the week from The Week magazine, originally from LA Times.
- 2 ounces pancetta (optional, or bacon or veggie bacon)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, best quality
- 1 small red onion, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1⁄2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1 (14 ounce) can Italian tomatoes (whole in puree) or 1 (14 ounce) can Italian tomatoes (crushed in puree)
- kosher salt or sea salt
- 1⁄2 lb pasta (buccatini or perciatelli)
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 1⁄2 cup ricotta salata, finely crumbled
- If using, cut pancetta into i/4 inch dice. Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium-low heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring, until it crisps and renders its fat, about 10 minutes. Remove pancetta and set aside. Break into small pieces when cooled. Remove all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and discard.
- Add oil and onion and cook, stirring often, until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add red pepper flakes then add tomatoes and crush against the pan if using whole. Cook, stir and crush tomatoes into small bits, for 5 minutes.
- Simmer 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While sauce cooks, bring large pot of water to a rolling boil with salt (about 1 Tbsp for every 2 quarts - it should be salty). Fifteen minutes before sauce is done, add pasta to water. Stir and then cook until al dente, 11-12 minutes or according to package directions.
- Reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water, drain pasta in colander. Add butter and toss quickly, then transfer to pan with sauce. Stir until strands are thinly but evenly coated. Add a little cooking liquid if pasta seems dry. Add half Ricotta Salata and stir to combine well.
- Transfer pasta to large bowl or platter and sprinkle with pancetta and remaining cheese. Serve hot.
- For Vegetarian omit the pancetta or use vegetarian bacon.