Recipe Box: Savory Roman Pastas, Four Ways

Hey everyone! Claire here, with another installment of my food-inspired-by-film series…

Let me start by saying that your impression of the movie La Dolce Vita says a lot about where you are in life. Do you find it exotic and romantic? Frustrating and vapid? Nostalgic and bittersweet? The film covers seven episodes in a gossip rag journalist’s life. Seven nights, seven mornings, seven hills in Rome, the seven sins—there’s a lot of allegorical, metaphorical stuff going on. And the film meanders through what are essentially the dichotomies of modern culture.

In La Dolce Vita, the city is actually a character in and of itself. In the film, Rome is in constant action and reaction to its characters. It’s shiny and glamorous, but only after the economic miracle from a few years before. War and pain are a short memory away, and imprinted on the ruins on top of which people have drunken bacchanalias.

There are four great Roman pastas, all connected: Gricia, Cacio e Pepe, Carbonara, and Amatriciana. They each play off of the others and reveal different sides to the same concept. Pasta, guanciale, and pecorino are the veins that pulse through each one of these quintessentially Roman dishes. Prepare to understand how Italian cuisine can play with our perception of what a few simple ingredients can mean… Buon Appetito!

Pasta alla Gricia

Pasta alla Gricia

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup sliced or chopped guanciale
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano
  • 4 ounces of dried pasta

Instructions:

  1. Bring your well-salted pasta water to a boil. 

Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and place over medium heat, the oil will help the rendering process go a little faster.
  1. Once the guanciale has rendering out about half it’s fat (about 7 to 10 minutes), drop the pasta into the water. Make sure to slowly cook down the guanciale—no browning—you want it to look translucent and crisp. Turn the heat down if necessary.
  1. When the guanciale has softened, add a small splash of water from the pasta pot.

Lower the heat, and keep dribbling in spoonfuls of pasta cooking water as it evaporates, just enough to keep the guanciale moist. The starch in the pasta water will help you create a sauce.
  1. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan, then turn up the heat and listen for some sizzle. Reserve a cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta well, coating it with the guanciale and rendered fat, and add a small splash of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to bring it all together.
  1. Remove the pan from the heat and add the grated Pecorino Romano cheese, but not too much. The cheese is meant to help bind, not be the star. Grind some black pepper into the pan, toss well and serve immediately on a warm plate.

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sliced or chopped guanciale
  • 1 cup of grated Pecorino Romano
  • 4 ounces of dried pasta
  • salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Bring your well-salted pasta water to a boil. 

Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and place over medium heat, the oil will help the rendering process go a little faster.
  1. Once the guanciale has rendering out about half it’s fat (about 7 to 10 minutes), drop the pasta into the water. Make sure to slowly cook down the guanciale—no browning—you want it to look translucent and crisp. Turn the heat down if necessary.
  1. When the guanciale has softened, remove the pieces of the guanciale (but leave the fat in the fat). 

Lower the heat, and keep dribbling in spoonfuls of pasta cooking water as it evaporates, just enough to keep the guanciale moist. The starch in the pasta water will help you create a sauce.
  1. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan. Reserve a cup of pasta water. Remove the pan from heat, and toss the pasta well, coating it with the rendered fat and sprinkling in the cheese as you go.
  1. Add a small splash of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to bring it all together.

 Grind some black pepper into the pan, toss well and serve immediately on a warm plate.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup guanciale
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • ½ cup of grated Pecorino Romano
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz. dried pasta

Instructions:

  1. Bring your well-salted pasta water to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, and cheese. Set aside for later use.
  1. Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and place over medium heat, the oil will help the rendering process go a little faster. Once the guanciale has rendering out about half it’s fat (about 7 to 10 minutes), drop the pasta into the water. Make sure to slowly cook down the guanciale—no browning—you want it to look translucent and crisp. Turn the heat down if necessary.
  1. When the guanciale has softened, add a small splash of water from the pasta pot.

 Lower the heat, and keep dribbling in spoonfuls of pasta cooking water as it evaporates, just enough to keep the guanciale moist. The starch in the pasta water will help you create a sauce.
  1. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan, then turn up the heat and listen for some sizzle. Reserve a cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta well, coating it with the guanciale and rendered fat, and add a small splash of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to bring it all together.
  1. Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture, stirring quickly. If you’re not quick you might end up with scrambled eggs. Grind some black pepper into the pan, toss well and serve immediately on a warm plate.

Pasta Amatriciana

Pasta Amaracitiana

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup sliced or chopped guanciale
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano
  • 4 ounces of dried pasta

Instructions:

  1. Bring your well-salted pasta water to a boil. 

Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and place over medium heat, the oil will help the rendering process go a little faster.
  1. Once the guanciale has rendering out about half it’s fat (about 7 to 10 minutes), drop the pasta into the water, and add the onion and chili pepper flake. Make sure to slowly cook down the guanciale—no browning—you want it to look translucent and crisp.
  1. Turn the heat down if necessary. When the guanciale has softened, add a small splash of water from the pasta pot. Add the tomato sauce to the pan, stirring to combine.

 When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan, then turn up the heat and listen for some sizzle. Reserve a cup of pasta water.
  1. Toss the pasta well, coating it with the sauce, and add a small splash of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to bring it all together.

 Remove the pan from the heat and add the grated Pecorino Romano cheese, but not too much. The cheese is meant to help bind, not be the star. Grind some black pepper into the pan, toss well and serve immediately on a warm plate.

And there you have it! Each one of these recipes is sure to impress any guest you entertain the next time you’re having company over. Just be sure to screen La Dolce Vita for the finishing touch!

What’s your favorite Italian pasta dish?

Do you have a favorite movie you’d like me to create a recipe from for my next post?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments—I’d love to hear them.

X Claire
The Kitchy Kitchen

Photos: The Kitchy Kitchen
Pinterest
  • Greta Fumagalli

    Hello! I’m Greta, I’ve just read this post and… Cacio&pepe is my super favorite type of pasta!!
    I’m Italian, I live in Italy, and I often eat it.. please don’t put any guanciale in cacio&pepe!! Only cacio (pecorino romano) and black pepper! There is no meat in the real recipe 🙂
    Kiss, Greta!

    p.s. sorry for my bad English :p