Pasta Amatriciana

This Pasta Amatriciana recipe is my rendition on classic Italian amatriciana (otherwise referred as all’amatriciana or matriciana) sauce, which hails from Amatrice, Italy.

Although the dish’s history is nuanced and dates back to the 1700’s, amatriciana sauce is generally prepared from olive oil, cured pork, canned tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and pecorino cheese.

This version uses easier-to-find substitutions (eg. pancetta) and takes a few liberties, but rings true and will leave you coming back for more.

If you love hearty, flavorful, and spicy pasta sauces, you will love today’s recipe. The tomato-based sauce packs a punch and tastes like something you’d order at your favorite Italian restaurant! Best part? The whole thing comes together in less than 25 minutes.

Rigatoni All Amatriciana

Why You’ll Love This Dish:

Amatriciana is one of my favorite pasta sauces and weeknight dinners because it can be prepared in less than 25 minutes and requires very few ingredients, most of which are pantry staples.

Amatriciana Sauce Ingredients

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: staple fat in Italian cooking
  • PANCETTA: while traditional amatriciana is made with guanciale (cured pork jowl), pancetta (Italian bacon) is an excellent and easy-to-find substitute. I prefer to cut the pancetta into a small dice, which evenly distributes itself throughout the sauce, but feel free to adjust the size based on your preference.
  • YELLOW ONION + GARLIC: similar to Roman amatriciana preparations, this recipe contains both sautéed onion and garlic for added flavor. Be sure to finely dice the onion so it nearly disappears into the sauce.
  • DRIED RED PEPPER FLAKES: this recipe calls for 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes. It packs a decent amount of heat, but doesn’t overpower the palate. Of course, if you are sensitive to spicy foods, decrease the quantity to 1/2 teaspoon or less, and simply adjust to taste.
  • TOMATO PASTE: adds concentrated tomato flavor to the sauce.
  • CANNED ITALIAN TOMATOES: you’ll need one (28-ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes – or whole Italian peeled tomatoes, processed until mostly smooth. I recommend San Marzano tomatoes if you are able to find them. My favorite canned tomato brands are Bianca DiNapoli and Cento.
  • PECORINO CHEESE: a key ingredient. Pecorino is an Italian sheep’s milk cheese. It is sharp and salty in flavor, and is essential to this dish. Don’t skip it and grate extra for serving.

What Kind of Pasta Should I Use?

Bucatini or spaghetti is the traditional choice for amatriciana, but rigatoni is a great option that has become my personal favorite. The deep ridges and large surface area allow the textured sauce to cling well.

Unlike this Leek and Pancetta Pappardelle, which uses fresh egg pasta, Pasta Amatriciana is best prepared with dried, preferably bronze die-cut, pasta.

How to Make Amatriciana Sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until rendered and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the crispy pancetta, transfer to a small bowl, and set aside, leaving any rendered fat behind in the skillet.
Crispy Pancetta in Saute Pan
  1. Add the onion, red pepper flakes, and a generous pinch of salt to the pan and cook until the onions are soft, translucent, and just beginning to gain color. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly.
Sautéed Onions and Red Pepper Flakes in Saute Pan
  1. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until the tomato paste has started to cook slightly and darken in color. Add the canned tomatoes and reserved crispy pancetta back into the skillet and stir the sauce until all of the ingredients are incorporated evenly. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, seasoning to taste with salt and black pepper.
amatriciana sauce in skillet
  1. Meanwhile, boil the pasta until just shy of al dente. Transfer the pasta directly into the skillet and toss with the sauce. With the pan over low heat, add the pecorino cheese and starchy pasta water as needed to help loosen the sauce. Toss until the sauce evenly coats the pasta. Serve and top with additional grated pecorino cheese as desired.
All Amatriciana Pasta

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Pasta Amatriciana

Pasta Amatriciana

4.6 stars (61 ratings)
This Pasta Amatriciana recipe is my rendition on classic Italian amatriciana sauce. Prepared with crispy pancetta, dried red pepper flakes, canned Italian tomatoes, and pecorino cheese, this flavorful pasta sauce packs some heat and comes together in less than 30 minutes!
While bucatini or spaghetti is the traditional pasta choice for amatriciana, rigatoni is a great alternative that has quickly become my personal favorite. The deep ridges and large surface area allow the textured sauce to cling really well.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon) cut into a small or medium dice
  • 1 small yellow onion (roughly 6-7 ounces) finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or ½ teaspoon, if you prefer less heat
  • kosher salt I recommend Diamond Crystal brand
  • 3 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed San Marzano or Italian plum tomatoes or canned whole Italian tomatoes, processed until mostly smooth
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb (16 ounces) rigatoni, bucatini, or spaghetti see recipe headnote
  • 1 ounce finely grated pecorino romano cheese (roughly ¼ cup) plus more for serving

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until rendered and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a small bowl and set aside, leaving any rendered fat behind in the skillet.
    Crispy Pancetta in Saute Pan
  • Add the onion, red pepper flakes, and a generous pinch of salt to the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions are soft, translucent, and just beginning to gain color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 1 to 2 minutes.
    Sautéed Onions and Red Pepper Flakes in Saute Pan
  • Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until the tomato paste has started to cook slightly and darken in color. Add the canned tomatoes and reserved crispy pancetta back into the skillet and stir the sauce until all of the ingredients are incorporated evenly. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, seasoning to taste with salt and black pepper.
    amatriciana sauce in skillet
  • Meanwhile, boil the pasta until just shy of al dente. Using a spider skimmer or large slotted spoon, transfer the pasta directly into the skillet and toss with the sauce. With the pan over low heat, add the pecorino cheese and a generous splash or two of starchy pasta water as needed to help loosen the sauce. Toss until the sauce evenly coats the pasta. Serve with additional finely grated pecorino as desired.

Tips for Success: 

  • this recipe calls for 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes. It packs a decent amount of heat, but doesn’t overpower the palate. Of course, if you are sensitive to spicy foods, decrease the quantity to 1/2 teaspoon or less, and simply adjust to taste.
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 620kcal, Carbohydrates: 90g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 26mg, Sodium: 353mg, Potassium: 456mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 311IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 116mg, Iron: 2mg