Simple Suppers


spaghetti amatricianaSick unto death of Thanksgiving leftovers and in need of a minimal-fuss meal prior to the Saints game last night, I asked my husband what he wanted to eat and he suggested pasta. No surprise there—he's second-generation Italian and "pasta" is generally the first word to come out of his mouth when I ask what he wants for dinner. His family is from Pescara, and his mother is an excellent cook.

I made a sauce from the mountains of Amatrice outside that region- Spaghetti Amatriciana. The classic recipe calls for guanciale (dried pork cheek), but I subbed in pancetta. Hands-on time for this dish is not much more than 5 minutes; it simmers for an hour or so and is delicious. 

A tip I learned years ago from Lidia Matticchio Bastianch: cook your pasta until just al dente, drain it, put it back in the hot pan, and immediately toss it with 1/2 cup or so of the sauce you'll serve it with. The hot pasta soaks up the sauce and oil, and prevents it from clumping together when it cools. If you're cooking pasta for a pasta salad, toss it with a bit of olive oil or the dressing you'll be using for the salad.

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