Posts Tagged 'spaghetti'

Spaghetti alla Carrettiera (Spaghetti with Fried Bread Crumbs, Garlic, and Anchovies)


Some pasta dishes can only be described as strange. Perhaps I should explain that a bit better. There was a time when, to me, pasta meant tomato sauce (as further proof, I almost called it “spaghetti sauce”). And the tomato sauce came in a can and got mixed with sautéed ground beef. Then I discovered alfredo sauce and had multiple choices for my pasta. But, I then went to Italy and realized that there were nearly an infinite number of choices of pasta sauces. This is still the strangest.

I’m probably one of the three people in the United States who likes anchovies. I think they can add a unique flavor to foods. However, I’m still a bit hesitant about any food that tastes primarily of anchovies. And that’s what makes this strange.


I was hesitant to even post this recipe here but, when I thought about it, I rather liked Spaghetti alla Carretiera. It’s strange but then again so am I (as my wife will most certainly corroborate) and I consider my strangeness to be an endearing quality. It’s the same with the pasta.

Yes, it tastes primarily of anchovies. But it’s not objectionable (well, it was to Angela but that’s beside the point). It’s different but that’s why I like it not in spite of it.


Spaghetti alla Carrettiera (Spaghetti with Fried Bread Crumbs, Garlic, and Anchovies)
Adapted from Trattoria Cooking: More than 200 authentic recipes from Italy’s family-style restaurants

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp bread crumbs
1 large clove garlic, finely diced
1 salt-packed anchovy fillet
1/4 cup milk
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper
1/2 lbs. spaghetti
1 tbsp finely diced fresh parsley

  1. De-bone the anchovy fillet and soak in the milk for 10 minutes. Discard the milk and dry the anchovy well. Chop the anchovy.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for 1 minute less than the directions. Drain the pasta and reserve at least 1 cup of cooking water.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring, for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the anchovies, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the skillet and stir for 20 seconds.
  5. When the pasta is finished, add 1/2 cup of pasta water to the skillet. Add the spaghetti to the skillet and bring to the simmer. Cook for 1 minute until the sauce is thick and coating the pasta well.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the parsley.
  7. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.


Spaghetti all’Amatriciana


As I’ve said before, simple pasta dishes appeal to me. There’s something infinitely satisfying about taking a few good ingredients and turning them into something spectacularly good. And while Dr. Atkins may not approve of a meal like this, it’s one of my favorites. It’s actually good enough that we served it as a course for Christmas last year (we served a meal in the Italian style).

This dish is becoming increasingly popular on Italian restaurant menus. Particularly, those that want to appear more authentically Italian (as opposed to Italian-American). The sad thing is that they seldom have an authenticity nor are they particularly good. Angela ordered one a few weeks ago that wasn’t spicy at all.

And, really, this is such a simple and fast dish that a restaurant should be able to do a very good rendition of it without too much effort. I would be fine if it wasn’t this most authentic but at least make it taste good. There’s no real excuse.


The recipe itself takes about 40 to 45 minutes to make. For me, that’s a pretty quick dinner (but not Rachel Ray speed). I usually prepare the ingredients and then start cooking the sauce. Once the tomatoes are added and they begin to simmer, I start boiling the water for the pasta. When the pasta’s done, I add it to the sauce and go from there.

I don’t know exactly how authentic this recipe is. It does use pancetta in place of guanciale (I would try to make some if I could find a local source for pork jowl). It also uses spaghetti in place of bucatini (bucati was available at Trader Joe’s for a month or so but was nearly impossible to actually eat). The taste seems pretty close to what I had in Rome but I don’t know how memory has influenced that. Either way, it’s still pretty tasty.


Spaghetti all’Amatriciana
Adapted from Roma: Authentic Recipes from In and Around the Eternal City

1 tbsp olive oil
2 oz. pancetta, diced
1/4 cup diced onion
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 tbsp Pecorino Romano, grated
1/2 lbs. spaghetti

  1. Place the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and onion. Cook until the pancetta is browned.
  2. Add the red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on your taste) and the tomato paste. Stir well and allow to cook for one more minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the skillet. Scrap up any browned bits. Simmer the tomato sauce for 30 minutes.
  4. Bring salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti. Cook for one minute less than indicated on the package, about 7 minutes. Drain the spaghetti.
  5. Stir in half the Pecorino Romano into the sauce. Add the spaghetti and mix well. Cook for one minute more or until the pasta is al dente. Add the remaining Pecorino Romano.
  6. Serve with additional Pecorino Romano to sprinkle on top.

Serves 2 to 3.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Homemade Pancetta


I was correct: Spaghetti alla Carbonara is much better with homemade pancetta.

Spaghetti alla Amatriciana Bianco


Simple pasta dinners are a staple in our household (it should really be apartment-hold but I don’t think that’s a real word). The main reason is that we frequently can’t figure out what to actually eat for dinner and we usually get to the point where either I need to make something very fast or we go out to dinner (and, given both of us have an innate frugality, eating out is seldom an option).

This is the point where I usually reach for a simple pasta recipe. This was the situation last night. To complicate matters further, we had spaghetti al pomodoro earlier in the week so a tomato sauce is out.

We eat traditional Bucatini alla Amatriciana relatively regularly (as regularly as anything we eat) so the same dish just without the tomatoes sounded like it could be a winner. And it was quite good. It’s very similar to Spaghetti Alio e Olio, just with panchetta added (and how could that be a bad thing?). The dish is extremely fast: the critical path is the cooking of the pasta. The sauce cooks in about 4 to 5 minutes. The only key is to not put in any more butter or olive oil than specified; if you do, it will end up too oily.


In other news, we didn’t clean up from the pork chops the other night and we think our cats absconded with the leftovers. Oops. I’m just hoping they didn’t hide it somewhere and we’ll find it in several weeks. Our cats eating pork always makes me imagine the two of them stalking and attacking a pig.


Spaghetti alla Amatriciana Bianco
Adapted from Trattoria Cooking

1/2 lbs. spaghetti or bucattini
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 oz. panchetta, diced
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Italian parsley, diced
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for serving

  1. In boiling salted water, cook the pasta for 1 minute less than indicated on the packaging. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. When the butter stops foaming, add the panchetta and red pepper flakes and cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked past, the reserved cooking water, the parsley, and parmesan cheese. Stir and scrap up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 minute more. Serve with extra grated parmesan cheese on top.

Serves 2.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Doesn’t look like much does it? And, really, it’s not. Spaghetti alla carbonara is one of my default Angela-is-out-and-I-need-something-for-dinner meal. The critical path (why yes, I’m an engineer) on this dish is cooking the pasta so it isn’t really time or energy intensive. Plus, it tastes good in a comfort food sort of way.

I first tried this dish in Italy and fell in love with it in Rome. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant (I know it’s in a guidebook at home) but I do remember two things about it: it was by Pompey’s theater (which means it was in the Jewish ghetto) and that it opened for dinner at 7:30 PM. I know this second part because I showed up at 7:00 PM and was told that I would have to wait until 7:30 PM. So I waited and I was glad I did as I had the best spaghetti alla carbonara that I’ve ever had.

My version is not as good as that served in Rome. I’ve really had trouble finding a satisfactory recipe. Most recipes say that the pasta will cook the eggs in a bowl. And they’re wrong (possibly dangerously as the eggs don’t really cook). Some recipes say to add cream. Again, they’re wrong; the real dish doesn’t have cream. And serving it with a raw egg may be trendy (I think that’s how Mario Batali serves it at his restaurants) but it’s not particularly appetizing to me.


My thoughts are that it should be creamy but that the eggs should make it creamy. The only way I’ve found to do that is to slowly cook the eggs with the pasta as if making a custard. Is it authentic? I have no idea (it’s probably not) but it tastes good to me and fulfills my memories of the dish.

The recipe is loosely based on one from a book I bought in Italy, All the Recipes, Pasta of Italian Cuisine. However, the technique of the recipe is pretty much my own creation and I’ve modified the ingredients list a bit. I’ve only ever used panchetta, but I’m sure it would be good with guanciale (more authentic) or even bacon (what’s not good with bacon?). Also, when the recipe says to stir constantly, do so or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs (which, while it may be good, is not spaghetti alla carbonara). Finally, the recipe as listed only serves 1 because Angela doesn’t like it. I’ve also found that the final step of cooking the egg and pasta together seems to work better when there’s less of it. The recipe could easily be multiplied to whatever number of portions you’d like (or depending how hungry you are; this isn’t a lot of food for one person).


Spaghetti alla Carbonara

4 oz pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 oz panchetta, diced
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
4 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper

  1. Bring water to a boil, add salt, and cook the pasta. Under cook it by one minute.
  2. While the pasta cooks, in a sauce pan (preferably nonstick), add the olive oil and the garlic clove. Turn the heat to medium. When the oil is hot, add the panchetta and cook until it is browned but not completely cooked (the panchetta will cook for a minute after the heat is off).  Remove the garlic clove.  Turn off the heat.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, 2 tbsp cheese, salt, and pepper to taste.
  4. When the pasta is finished cooking, strain it and add it to the sauce pan. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Prepare a serving bowl. While constantly stirring, turn the heat to medium and cook. When the egg mixture just begins to solidify on the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and pour to pasta into the prepared serving dish.

Serves 1.