School Night Supper {Weeknight Spaghettoni with Tomatoes & Pancetta}

Ever since our cooking class in Italy last summer we’ve been making homemade pasta on a regular basis. It is such a fun family night activity and one I know the boys will stay home for. We typically do it on the weekend, but had a “snow” day last week and a free evening with no plans. While we have the pasta down, we’ve been trying different sauces to find the perfect one. When I ran across this Ina Garten recipe for weeknight pasta, I knew we had to try it. It was a HUGE hit with two thumbs up from all. The sauce is rich and you don’t need a lot, but I still wished I’d doubled the recipe based on the amount of pasta we always end up making.

Weeknight Spaghettoni with Tomatoes & Pancetta}

Go to Dinners – we used the sauce recipe only

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Good olive oil
  • 6 ounces (¼-inch) diced pancetta
  • 1½ cups chopped yellow onion (1 large)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 pound dried spaghettoni or bucatini (see note)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Italian Pecorino cheese, divided (4 ounces)
  • ¼ cup julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving


  1. Fill a large pot with water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium (10-inch) pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, until browned. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, until starting to brown. Add the reserved pancetta, the garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook for one minute. Add the wine and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the liquid has almost entirely evaporated. Add the tomatoes and sugar, bring to boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and taste for seasonings.
  3. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes less than al dente according to directions on the package. With tongs, transfer the pasta to the pot with the sauce, bringing some of the pasta water with it. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with the tongs and adding more pasta water as needed to make a loose sauce. Off the heat, stir in ½ cup of the Pecorino and the ¼ cup basil and toss with tongs. Taste for seasonings. Transfer to pasta bowls, sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of Pecorino and more basil, and serve hot.

We have a busy day ahead – Whit and I are playing Bingo at a retirement home this morning, he’s got a meeting with a volunteer group this afternoon, I’m taking dinner to a friend this afternoon, and we’ve got mass tonight. It’s time to get moving – no slow Sunday here this week.

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