Hello! Happy Easter and welcome to Sunday Supper. I imagine you have your Easter menu or Passover feast in the works for today, so be sure to pin or bookmark this recipe because you will definitely want to give this one a try! My intention for this was to make Pasta alla Gricia, but I wanted to add fresh English peas, and I had pancetta instead of guanciale. So this pasta dish is made like Pasta alla Gricia, but the ingredients are a little different. So, let’s do it: Rigatoni with Pancetta and Spring Peas.
There isn’t much prep with this recipe, but if you use pancetta instead of guanciale, you will need a bit more fat for the sauce than the pancetta will yield when it cooks, so I used a couple tablespoons of bacon grease. Which, if you’re like me, you have a jar of bacon fat in your fridge. But if not, you can certainly use diced bacon for this recipe, or bake up some bacon to use for something else and use the fat for this. We want about 3 tablespoons of bacon fat in the end.
This recipe will make two servings, and you can easily double it for more. In addition to the bacon fat, we have 4 ounces diced pancetta, about a cup of peas (use more or less to suit your taste), fresh cracked black pepper, grated parmesan (about 1/2 cup, plus more for serving), and I used 9 ounces of large rigatoni (about half of the one-pound package).
In a pot large enough to eventually hold all the ingredients, brown the pancetta over medium-low heat. We don’t want it to get too brown too fast, so just let it go slowly. Add the two tablespoons of bacon fat and occasionally stir the pancetta so it browns evenly, about 5-7 minutes. While that’s going, get a large pot with about 1 quart of salted water boiling for the rigatoni. We are using less than the recommend amount of water because we want the water to be extra starchy for the sauce.
Once the pancetta is browned, turn off the heat and either spoon the pancetta out of the fat with a slotted spoon, or set up a fine mesh strainer over a bowl or large measuring cup to separate the pancetta from the fat. You want about 3 tablespoons of fat for the sauce, so I like to strain it over the measuring cup so I can add more bacon fat if needed. Set the pancetta and the fat aside until the pasta is done.
Set a colander in a large bowl to collect all the pasta water when you strain it. When the pasta is just shy of al dente, strain it in your colander/bowl set up. Take the colander with the pasta out of the bowl and set it aside. Use a measuring cup to scoop about 1.5 cups of pasta water out of the bowl. Add the bacon fat back to the pot we cooked the pancetta in and add the 1.5 cups of pasta water and the pepper. Bring this to a boil over high heat and let it reduce a little. Stir occasionally, scraping up all the brown bits from the pancetta browning. Let this boil rapidly for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is emulsified.
At about the 5 minute mark, add the peas and let it continue to boil for about 2 minutes.
Then add the pancetta to the sauce and peas. Stir to combine and reduce the heat to low. Then add the Pasta to the pot and stir gently to coat the pasta with sauce.
Sprinkle in the grated parmesan and stir continuously to melt the cheese.
At first, it will seem that the cheese will not incorporate, but just keep gently stirring the pasta up from the bottom and around to fully get the cheese to incorporate into the sauce. At this point, if the cheese needs more hot liquid to help it melt, you can incrementally add a little more pasta water to smooth out the mixture. You’ll know it’s there when everything is looking glossy and creamy. Remember to turn off the heat.
Plate it Up!
I like to use bowls for this recipe, it makes scooping up all the peas and pancetta bits a lot easier.
I love rigatoni for this recipe because the peas and pancetta make their way into the rigatoni!
Top with more parmesan and pepper.
This dish is super rich (hello, bacon fat) and the peas help balance it out a little. Another great spring veg to use would be diced asparagus. I have been on a real pasta kick lately, and I am not at all sorry about it. (Remember Bucatini all’Amatriciana?) Up until recently, I almost never ate pasta. Never had it in the pantry; and not for any particular reason other than I just didn’t want to consume a lot of carbs. Those were sad times. Lol. Because, honestly a little indulgence is not a bad thing. Especially when it’s perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned pasta like this Rigatoni with Pancetta and Spring Peas.
Thank you so much for spending some of your day with me. I hope that you have a beautiful holiday, sharing it with the ones you love. Remember, you can visit me on Pinterest to save this recipe and all the Djalali Cooks recipes. Take care and be well, friends. xo Kelly
Rigatoni with Pancetta and Spring Peas
Bouncy rigatoni, fresh spring peas and golden brown pancetta are coated in a rich, peppery sauce of bacon fat, Parmesan and pasta water.
- 2 Heaping tbsp. Bacon Fat
- 4 oz. Diced Pancetta
- 1/2 tsp. Fresh Cracked Black Pepper, plus more for serving
- 1 cup of Fresh Peas (use more or less to suit your taste)
- 9 oz. Large Rigatoni (about half of the one-pound package)
- 1/2 cup Finely Grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Set 1 quart of salted water to boil.
In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the pancetta in the bacon fat over medium-low heat until the pancetta is evenly browned, about 5 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a bowl, drain off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat.
Cook the rigatoni, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking.
Strain the pasta over a bowl to collect the pasta cooking water.
Add 1.5 cups of the pasta cooking water to the 3 tablespoons of bacon fat in the large pot, add the pepper and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Stirring occasionally and scraping u the brown bits, let the sauce boil and reduce until emulsified, about 5 minutes.
Add the peas to the pot and boil for another 2 minutes.
Add the pancetta to the pot and reduce the heat to low.
Stir to combine the pancetta and peas, then add the pasta.
Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce and add the Parmesan cheese.
Gently but continuously stir the pasta in the sauce to melt the cheese and thicken the sauce.
Add a little more hot pasta water if necessary to smooth out the sauce.
Keep stirring the pasta up from the bottom to thoroughly coat until everything looks glossy and creamy.
Serve in bowls, topped with more pepper and Parmesan.