Friday, October 21, 2011

Amatriciana Sauce - Italian Sauce with Pancetta

Since I started blogging here at UMI over 3 years ago, I've noticed that readers really love the sauce recipes. Whether its my family recipe for Sunday Gravy, Vodka Sauce or Arrabiatta Sauce - these sauces are classics that can usually be made with minimal effort and a big wow factor.

Here is another classic Italian sauce recipe that boasts the amazing flavor of Pancetta! It gets its name from the town of its origin, Amatrice (a super small town in Northern Lazio. We're talking central Italy, here - the countryside that literally divides the North from the South.) It is a very rustic style sauce.

Pancetta is Italian bacon that is cured with all kinds of salt and yummy spices. It is most often used in recipes for the flavor you get from the fat (who doesn't love cooking in a good fat!?) on the meat. Some "Med-E-Gones" substitute regular bacon in recipes such as these. I guess you could do the same, but then you run the risk of breaking my heart (and the hearts of Italians everywhere).


3 TB e.v.o.o.
2 oz. pancetta, finely cubed
1 med onion, minced
1 TB minced garlic
pinch of dried oregano
1 can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped or hand crushed
1/2 tsp (to start) curshed red pepper flakes (adjust to your liking)
1 TB julienned fresh basil leaves
salt & pepper to taste

Start with only 2 TB of the olive oil. Use it to brown the pancetta. Once browned, add the onions and garlic, saute over medium heat until soft. Stir in the oregano, hot pepper flakes, and the tomatoes. Bring it to a boil. SImmer until sauce has thickened a bit (around 30 minutes)

At the end, stir in the basil leaves and add more hot pepper/salt/pepper as needed. Stir in the remaining TB of olive oil until emulsified.

Toss with your favorite pasta and top with lots of yummy grated pecorino romano cheese! (my fav) And MANGIA!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cookin with Lentils: Easy Lentil Soup Recipe

Lentils are a hearty, economical ingredient when feeding a large family!
(Having five children, I've kinda figured 'economical' out)
So I thought I'd share my Dad's recipe for Lentil Soup.
It's very simple and perfect for a rainy day.


1 small onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
2 carrots, minced
2 TB butter
1 - 2 TB e.v.o.o.
2 cups Chicken or Beef Stock
2 cups water
2 cups cooked (very al dente) ditalini pasta
1 cup lentils, rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in the butter and e.v.o.o. until soft. Do not brown. Add in the lentils and coat. Add in the stock and water. Simmer until the lentils are tender (around 30 minutes or so). Stir in the cooked ditalini pasta. Serve hot with a bunch of grated cheese on top! Buon Appetito!

*Variations: If you want more of a minestrone type taste, add in one can of diced tomatoes after having cooked the mirepoix for a bit. Also a bay leaf is a nice touch. Add a whole leaf while simmering.
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