Hi – I’m Roberta – welcome to my kitchen.
I love making it easy for home cooks to explore new cuisines and ingredients and share my passion for cooking, eating, drinking and travelling.
I have a Masters degree in gastronomy, am the author of four cookbooks, a certified cheese judge, a Sherry educator, a restaurant reviewer and a cooking teacher. You can read more about me here.
I love the way food and wine can inspire our travels – vicariously and for real – and each week I’ll be taking you to a different corner of the globe with a simple, delicious recipe that you can create in your own kitchen.
I’ve just returned from leading the most delicious food and wine tour in Italy finishing with a few days in Rome to track down great examples of the ‘Eternal City’s’ five famous pasta dishes.
Holiday at home
I found the best all’Amatriciana at Collegio, a vaulted wine bar/restaurant on cobbled Piazza Capranica in the historic centre. I love tomato, cheese and all things quick and easy, so it’s the perfect dish to recreate at home for a little vicarious Roman holiday.
The traditional guanciale (cured pork cheek) is made by artisanal producer Salumi Australia and is available in good delis and Harris Farm Markets, but use flat pancetta (or even bacon) if you can’t find it.
Amatrice, for which the sauce is named, is a mountain town about two hours west of Rome.
Before tomatoes were introduced to Italy, locals simply dressed pasta with sheep cheese and guanciale. This ‘in bianco’ sauce, called alla gricia, is another of Rome’s top five pastas.
Meanwhile the tomato version, made with hollow bucatini or short wide shapes such as rigatoni, has become a typical dish of modern Roman cuisine.
A good sheep’s milk pecorino is essential, ideally authentic Pecorino Romano, otherwise a young pecorino sardo or toscano is best. A glass of savoury Dal Zotto La Nebbia Col Fondo, naturally sparkling nebbiolo from the King Valley, completes our vicarious Italian holiday! Buon Appetito!
Serves: six as a starter or four as a main
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 125g guanciale, diced
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine
- pinch dried chilli flakes
- 400g canned Italian tomatoes, crushed
- 500g bucatini or rigatoni
- salt, for pasta water
- 100g freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Heat oil in a large saucepan, add guanciale and cook over a medium heat for five minutes or so, until it’s coloured and crisp.
Add wine and boil for a minute or so until the alcohol evaporates.
Stir in chilli flakes then tomato, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
Meanwhile, add the pasta to plenty of boiling salted water (10g salt/litre of water).
When it’s just al dente, use tongs to transfer the pasta to the sauce, reserving the cooking water.
Add about two-thirds of the Pecorino and toss to coat well, adding a little cooking water to give a creamy consistency.
Serve topped with remaining Pecorino and a drizzle of oil.
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Do you have a favourite pasta dish? Why is it your favourite? Why not share it in the comments section below?