There are many great pastas that have origins in Rome, Italy. This pea, prosciutto, pancetta and tomato pasta recipe is traditionally cooked "a la minute" (cooked to order). Bucatini (hollow spaghetti) is the choice pasta for this recipe, but in my area, it is hard to find.
The Italian chef that I once worked with, prepared no tomato sauces ahead of time. He cooked peeled San Marzano plum tomato filets with olive oil and garlic for only a few minutes and that was all the preparation that was done ahead of time. "Tomatoes this great need very little cooking" was his motto. We cooked our dried pastas to order too.
The Italian chef was born in Egypt and cooked in Rome for a long time. He had an Italian cooking style I had never seen before. Everything was cooked to order and every recipe was traditional. I learned quite a bit about Roma style cooking from this chef. Roma, like many other Italian regions, has its own traditions of cooking techniques.
The combination of Parma ham, peas and prosciutto creates a surprisingly bold flavor when combined with tomato garlic and olive oil. This quick a la minute Roma pasta is a real treat for pasta lovers!
Spaghetti Rigati alla Roma Recipe:
When cooking an Italian tomato sauce, make sure to cook the sauce with enough olive oil so that the tomatoes do not stew in their own juices. Olive oil should be the medium for the simmering tomatoes to grab on to. Do not use an excess amount of oil, or the oil will bleed from the tomatoes.
Cook one portion of spaghetti rigati pasta in boiling water, till it becomes al dente. The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks.
Place 1 1/3 cup of imported Italian canned peeled seeded San Marzano plum tomato filets packed in their own juices into a mixing bowl. Be sure to add a proportion of the juices from the can.
Squeeze and crush the tomatoes by hand.
Set the crushed tomatoes aside.
Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add 1/4 cup of chopped pancetta.
Saute till the pancetta turns a light brown color.
Add 1 clove of chopped garlic.
Add 1 small handful of chopped prosciutto.
Saute till the prosciutto and the garlic become aromatic.
Add the reserved tomatoes.
Add 3 to 5 leaves of chopped fresh basil.
Add 2 pinches of oregano.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 3 pinches of chopped Italian parsley.
Simmer and reduce the sauce.
When the sauce become thick enough to coat the pasta, add 1 handful of sweet peas.
Reduce the temperature to very low heat, till the pasta is ready.
Drain the water off of the al dente cooked pasta.
Add the portion of al dente cooked spaghetti rigati.
Toss the pasta and sauce together.
Mound the pasta on a plate.
Spoon any excess sauce over the pasta.
Sprinkle a small amount of fresh grated parmesan cheese over the pasta.
Garnish with a basil sprig.
Only make enough sauce to flavor and coat the pasta! For most pasta recipes, that is the Italian cardinal rule. The pasta should be minimally coated with sauce and not swimming in sauce!
There is a nice flavor reaction when pancetta and prosciutto are cooked with olive oil and tomatoes that gives off an incredibly good aroma. The peas add a tame complimentary taste to the bold flavors of the sauce. This is one of my favorite a la minute pasta recipes! Ciao Baby! ... Shawna