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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Proud to Eat Pasta

I've come out of the closet.  For several years, I was a closet pasta and bread eater.  Atkins and South Beach proclaimed eating pasta to be bad so I took my carb habit into the closet.  I'm not proud of myself, but I couldn't take all the nasty stares.

Here's the thing.  I love bread and I love pasta.  Always have, always will.  And you know what, take a look at those sexy Italian women.  They eat pasta everyday and they look fabulous.  So why do without?   I know plenty of women who haven't eaten anything "white" in years and they don't look half as good as they should given all that food denial.  Clearly it isn't worth passing up the bread basket, now is it?

So around my house pasta is a favorite on the dinner menu.  And lately I have been trying out some of the simplest preparations to rave reviews.  Tonight I made Spaghetti all'Amatriciana for dinner.  It's such an easy, classic preparation and is hugely satisfying.   It just requires a couple of ingredients, all of which should be in a fairly well stocked pantry and refrigerator.  In about 15 minutes you will  have a meal that is sure to please.

Recipe:  Spaghetti all'Amatriciana
(Adapted from Mario Batali)


Kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced small
1 medium onion, cut in half and then sliced into 1/4-inch wide slices
1/4 cup tomato pasta
1 1/2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
3/4 cup strained tomatoes, simmered and reduced by half
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 3 tablespoons of kosher salt.

Meanwhile, combine the oil, pancetta, and onion in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the pancetta is lightly browned and the onions are soft, about 6 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the reduced tomato sauce and remove the skillet from the heat.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated.  If the sauce is coating the pasta too thickly, add a little more of the pasta water.  Stir in the cheese and the parsley.  Serve hot with additional grated cheese on the side.

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