12 ounces center-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups basic tomato sauce
1 pound pasta (I always use Barilla’s Cellentani because it has great nooks and crannies to catch the sauce)
Freshly grated cheese, such as Pecorino Romano, optional
1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, combine the bacon, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes; set over medium heat and cook until the onion is softened and the bacon has rendered most of its fat, about 12 minutes.
3. Drain the bacon mixture in a mesh sieve or colander and return to pan. Add the tomato sauce, turn up the heat and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta in the boiling water for about a minute less than the package directions, until still very firm; drain.
5. Add the pasta to the simmering sauce and toss for about 1 minute to coat. Serve topped with cheese, if desired.
This recipe is one of the many I’ve tried, and loved, from Mario Batali’s fantastic Molto Italiano. I’ve tweaked it only slightly to take into account availability of ingredients. When I serve this pasta, people frequently forget that there are other things on the plate to go with it because the pasta is that awesome. I think that I could safely say it is my family’s favorite pasta dish. It’s also a ridiculously simple way to doctor up store-bought pasta sauce and turn it into something amazing. I usually just use a jar of Safeway-brand Marinara sauce if I haven’t got any basic homemade sauce on hand.
Shown here with Italian Style Meatloaf.