I've been blessed and lucky to have received some amazing gifts in recent weeks, and I can't help but get excited about their implications for this blog. Based on the types of gifts I've received, I think it's safe to say I'm making the transition from newly domesticated to newly gourmand. (Don't worry; there is still SO MUCH information that still eludes me. I'm definitely still new to this grown-up thing.)
One of the recent gifts I received was Giada de Laurentis's "Everyday Italian," a gift from my dear friend Nicole, who happens to be the most domestic lady I know. It couldn't have come at a better time either, because Friday afternoon I had dinner guests coming over and no clue what to make. A quick perusal through the book led me to perciatelli all'Amatriciana. To which you might say, WHAT?
I know, Perciatelli all'Amatriciana just sounds so beyond complicated, doesn't it? But don't fear! It's totally not. It's like a fancier, more grown-up version of spaghetti, but instead of ground beef, you use pancetta (Italian bacon).
First things first, you heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat and add a bunch of pancetta. I used an entire package I purchased at Trader Joe's pre-diced. Traditional Amatriciana sauce calls for guanciale, or dried pork cheek, but as I don't have ready access to an Italian butcher, I went with pancetta.
Once the pancetta has browned, add diced onion and 4 minced cloves of garlic.
In the meantime, I poured the contents of a can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes (Giada's preferred tomato) into a bowl and crushed the tomatoes with my hands. This is a satisfying equivalent to a stress ball — seriously.
I also started a pot of water to boil.
This is perciatelli, which is a long, skinny macaroni. It's like a cousin to spaghetti, but the hollowness somehow makes it feel lighter and more fun to eat. Its weight is a good match to the sauce, as well.
When our guests came, we dug into a hastily assembled caesar salad (look at how prettily Sean set the table!) and a loaf of Trader Joe's ciabatta. We just got the salad bowls and tray from one of Sean's mom's friends, and I was SO excited to use them!
Years ago, my mother bought me these little dishes for the express purpose of having dipping oil with my bread and this was my first chance to use them. This is a rosemary-garlic mix of spices and was delicious.
And the piece de resistance — the pasta, with freshly grated pecorino romano cheese! It was delicious. I like my tomato sauces on the lighter side, devoid of too much paste, and Sean tends to disagree. I thought it was just perfect, but some of the men in your life might crave a heartier sauce.
All in all, this was a very easy, yet very flavorful twist on the traditional (read: boring) spaghetti meal.