Everything is blooming. When fall finally settled upon my Southern home five months ago, I thought I had never seen such color occur in nature. As a Northwestern gal, I’m used to the rich greens and sages of ponderosa pine and juniper. I wasn’t used to the sea of foliage blazing in crimson, gold and umber.
Now, spring. I swear, every one of those trees is blooming. Every one! Not just sprouting tender new leaves; blooming. I’ve never seen anything like it, not even in Seattle or Portland, Ore. Does that mean they all are fruit-bearing trees? No…we also have Southern magnolia to complement the pear and cherry trees. I stepped out of the office one day with a colleague and a perfume of flowers met us. We sat under a full umbrella of cherry blossoms, looking through the white petals to the blue sky. Perfect weather for a light jacket.
The extended evening light makes me more willing to cook after a long day of work. Granted, this still doesn’t happen quite enough, but at least I don’t go STRAIGHT to bed anymore. Instead, I make dishes like the Italian country dish called Pasta all’Amatriciana.
This is essentially a bacon-tomato based pasta that my boyfriend said reminded him of hoppin’ john. Alls I knows is this: pancetta = bacon without the smoke. I even went to the specialty store to get authentic, 1/4-inch sliced pancetta and real Pecorino Romano cheese. You must be authentic in this regard, because any thinner pancetta will dissolve into the sauce and bad cheese is just bad, especially when eaten raw.
It was simple and elegant and satisfying even for someone who wants a heartier pasta.
Coming at you from Cook’s Illustrated…
- 2 T evoo
- 6 0z. 1/4-inch sliced pancetta (I used 9 oz…whoops!)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
- kosher salt
- 1 lb. linguine or bucatini
- 1/3 c. Pecorino Romano
Bring large pot of water to boil for pasta. Drop in pasta with a handful of salt and cook according to package.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium. Add pancetta and cook until crisp and lightly brown, about 8 min. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain.
Add onion to skillet, saute over medium until softened, about 5 min. Add red pepper flakes, cook 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and season with salt to taste. Simmer until thickened, 10 min. Return pancetta.
When pasta is done, drain and add to tomato mixture and season with salt to taste. Toss to combine. Add cheese and toss again.
Serve with Italian parsley, more Pecorino Romano and some toasted Italian bread.
Enjoy this as you enjoy your spring, friends! xoxo