Turns out, those chaps in the early Roman Empire really knew what they were doing. It was during this period in Italian history that so many of the fabulous flavours and dishes that we know so well in Italian cuisine today were born. In 400 AD experimentation was rife in restaurant kitchens, leading to so many great dishes such as Carbonara, and the lesser known Rigatoni Alla Gricia.
This pasta is so simple, you won’t believe it. If you time everything really well then you can have it ready in 20 minutes – from prep to finish. Plus, with only 3 ingredients (plus S&P and olive oil) it’s a super easy meal that you can make with very little planning – you absolutely need to try this Rigatoni Alla Gricia today!
While it might seem to simple to be true, it’s just amazing. This pasta has the most amazing saucy glaze. The juices from the panchetta and the olive oil combine to give a meaty smoky taste. When you add some pasta water – with all the starch it’s collected – it helps to emulsify, or bind, the fats and the water together
What are the ingredients in Rigatoni Alla Gricia?
The original recipe is made with guanciale. However I use panchetta in this. The only reason being that it is far easier to come across – at least in the UK and UAE. Guanciale is from the cheek of the pig (rather than panchetta or bacon which are from the belly or back). It is a dried meat and very strong tasting – so a little goes a long way. It is actually the traditional meat in carbonara, but as you have probably experienced, panchetta or bacon is typically substituted in a lot of countries. In Italy you would most certainly have guanciale rather than panchetta – and feel free to use that, if you can find it easily near you.
Another substitute you may like to make is parmesan instead of pecorino romano. Although the taste won’t be the same (the pecorino adds a stronger, tangy flavour) it does still work well – I’ve tried it myself!
Is Rigatoni Alla Gricia healthy?
Unfortunately Rigatoni Alla Gricia is not particularly healthy. It contains a high amount of fat from the pork and the cheese. This recipe comes in at around 750 Kcal. Which is certainly easy to slot into a balanced meal plan and enjoy on occasion. It’s also worth nothing that it doesn’t pack in much nutritionally as there are no plant based ingredients.
It is totally delicious though, and definitely something to enjoy as a treat!
Products that work well for this recipe
6 Sided Grater with Container
T-fal Nonstick Pan
Microwave Pasta Pot
With only 3 ingredients (plus olive oil & seasoning), and less than 20 minutes cooking time, you won’t believe how tasty this Rigatoni Alla Gricia is. Crispy panchetta and tangy pecorino glazed over al dente rigatoni – yum!
1. Bring a pan of slightly salted water (see note 2) to the boil and add the rigatoni. Cook a couple of minutes less than the pack instructions – you will continue to cook on the hob for another few minutes so don’t overdo it.
2. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan or a skillet over a medium high heat. Once hot add the panchetta and cook for 3-5 minutes until crispy. Remove the panchetta from the pan if it crisps enough and the pasta is still cooking. But don’t drain the oils and fat from the frying pan – this is a key element for the sauce in the dish.
3. Once the rigatoni is cooked, use a mug to take some of the starchy pasta water and then drain the rigatoni. Add the pasta (and the panchetta, if removed) to the frying pan over a medium high heat with a small splash of the pasta water. Add a generous amount of ground pepper. Turn the heat to high. Stir and cook everything together for 1 minute until the water has mainly evaporated.
4. Add most of the pecorino cheese. Stir everything together and cook for a further minute, stirring regularly to make sure everything is coated in the juices and the cheese.
5. Plate the pasta and serve – beautiful!
- Pecorino is a softer, yet tangier cheese. It’s the best option for taste in this simple recipe, but you can use parmesan if that’s all you have. Whatever cheese you use, buy it in a block and grate it yourself. Pre-grated cheese often has additives which will prevent it from melting in the same manner.
- Don’t add too much salt to the water as the panchetta and pecorino are quite salty ingredients already.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Hob
- Cuisine: Italian
- Calories: 750
- Fat: 33
- Carbohydrates: 73
- Protein: 35
Keywords: italian, pasta, dinner, roman, pecorino, panchetta,