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Smoked pancetta serves as the base for Rach's flavorful spaghetti that combines spicy peppers, sweet red onions and more in this deceptively simple dinner.


For the spaghetti:
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • ⅓ pound slab-cut smoked pancetta or meaty bacon, chopped
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • Coarse black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons sundried tomato paste
  • ½ cup red vermouth, or red wine plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • One 28-ounce can Italian chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup Italian hot cherry peppers in brine, chopped
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
  • 1 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • A few leaves of basil, torn
For the Simple Italian Salad:
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, (⅓ palmful)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion, (⅓ palmful)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, (⅓ palmful)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley, (⅓ palmful)
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar (⅓ palmful), or honey
  • ½ teaspoon crushed or ground red pepper, pepperoncini
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar, white or red
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 gem Romaine, or 1 heart of Romaine
  • 1 small bulb fennel
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • Italian hot cherry pepper rings in brine, drained (preferably Cento brand)


Serves: 4


For the spaghetti, heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta.

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Add EVOO, 3 turns of the pan. Add bacon and render, 2-3 minutes, then add onion and cook to soften 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, bay and black pepper and cook 2 minutes more. Add sundried tomato paste and stir a minute, add red vermouth or wine and sugar, then add tomatoes, cherry peppers and parsley, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes.

Salt water and cook pasta 1 minute less than direction on package, reserve half a mug, ½-¾ cup water, drain, then toss with cheese, the sauce and the reserved water.

Serve pasta in shallow bowls and top with basil.

Serve with Simple Italian Salad.

For the Simple Italian Salad, gather ingredients.

For the dressing, combine granulated garlic and onion, oregano, parsley and sugar in a Mason jar or plastic container, add vinegar, Dijon, EVOO, salt and pepper, then shake to combine.

Chop the lettuce and add to a bowl. Quarter and core the fennel and thinly slice. Thinly slice the onion. Add the fennel and onion to salad along with cherry pepper rings, and toss with dressing to serve.