SPAGHETTI ALLA RUSTICA (with pancetta, vegetables, herbs, olives and hot pepper, for four)


½ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cups onion sliced very thin

4 to 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin

3 ounces pancetta, cut into thin strips

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 large, meaty, sweet bell pepper (preferably yellow, but if not available, red), cored, seeded, skinned raw with a peeler and cut into strips about 2 inches long and ½ inch wide


1 pound fresh, ripe plum tomatoes, skinned raw with a peeler and diced into ½ inch cubes (you could sub grape tomatoes, unpeeled and halved)

½ teaspoon oregano

½ cup green olives in brine, drained, pitted and sliced into thin rings

2 tablespoons tiny capers

1 teaspoon hot red pepper, or more to taste

8 fresh basil leaves, torn by hand into small pieces

1 pound spaghetti

 freshly grated cheese:  ½ cup mellow pecorino, if available, otherwise 3 tablespoons romano and 5 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano

  1. Put the oil, onion, garlic, pancetta and parsley into a 10 to 12 inch saute pan. Turn on the heat to medium low and cook the onion, stirring from time to time, until it is tender but not brown (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add the pepper, stir occasionally, and cook slowly until tender (another 3 minutes).  Add salt (to taste), stir, turn up heat to high, and add the tomatoes.  Cook for 5 minutes over high heat, stirring frequently, or until the tomatoes are no longer watery, then add the oregano, olives, capers, hot pepper and basil.  Stir once or twice, then remove from the heat.
  3. Drop the pasta into a pot of abundant boiling salted water. Cook until tender but firm to the bite (about 9 minutes for Barilla.  If you are using another brand of dried pasta, follow instructions on box). Drain immediately, toss at once in a warm bowl with the vegetable sauce, add the grated cheese, toss again, and serve promptly.

adapted from Marcella Hazan, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen

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