In Italy, the rich, spicy tomato sauce called Amatriciana is found on many restaurant menus. Yet this pasta sauce is easy to make at home. Its simple list of ingredients makes it a perfect, quick dinner for a hectic weekday night. When freshly made, the tomato and smoky bacon flavors create a delicious sauce that can be served with most types of pasta.
Crushed red pepper can be found in the spice section of the supermarket. I use a quarter teaspoon, which makes the sauce mildly hot. If you like it scorching, add a little more. Be careful; just a little more adds a lot of heat.
Traditional Italian recipes call for pancetta, an Italian type of bacon cured in salt and spices rather than smoked. It can be found in some specialty-food stores. I used lower-sodium, no-sugar-added bacon found in the supermarket. Just a few slices gave the sauce a wonderful, smoky flavor.
Sautéed escarole with chickpeas is a crunchy, mild-flavored side dish. Escarole has a firm, slightly curled, pale green leaf that cooks well. Curly endive or chicory can be used. All are available in the supermarket. If these are not available, use romaine and cook for one minute instead of 3.
This meal contains a total of 563 calories per serving with 22 percent of calories from fat.
Save time: Buy sliced, fresh onion in the produce section of the market.
Cheese: Buy good quality Parmesan cheese and chop it in the food processor. Freeze the extra grated cheese for quick use.
Double duty dishes: To save using another pan, make escarole and chickpeas in the same skillet used for the pasta sauce.
Jarred garlic: Minced garlic can be found in jars in the produce section of the market. Two crushed garlic cloves can be used instead.
Wine suggestions: This spicy, zingy pasta dish cries out for a spicy, zingy Italian chianti. If you prefer white wine, you might want a full-bodied one such as Italy’s greco di tufo or a fruity gavi di gavi.
Shopping list: To buy – 1 small package low-salt, no-sugar-added bacon, 1 small bottle crushed red pepper, 1 small head escarole, 1 container sliced onion, 1 large can diced or crushed tomatoes, 1 jar minced garlic and 1 can chickpeas.
Staples: Spaghetti, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and black peppercorns.
Linda Gassenheimer is the author of 14 cookbooks including her newest, “The Flavors of the Florida Keys” and “Mix ’n Match Meals in Minutes for People with Diabetes.” Visit Linda on her web page at www.DinnerIn Minutes.com or email her at Linda@DinnerInMinutes.com.
Spaghetti All Amatriciana
4 slices low-salt, no-sugar-added bacon (3 ounces)
1 cup sliced onion
2 cups canned diced or crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot filled with 3 to 4 quarts water to a boil for the pasta over high heat. Cut as much fat as possible from bacon strips and then cut bacon into 1/2-inch slices. Sauté in a small nonstick skillet 3 minutes. Pour off all fat. Add onion and sauté 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and crushed red pepper. Simmer gently until tomatoes form a sauce, about 5 minutes. Add pasta to boiling water and boil until firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain and add to the skillet with the sauce. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes 2 servings.
Per serving: 384 calories (22 percent from fat), 9.4 g fat (3.3 g saturated, 3.5 g monounsaturated), 22 mg cholesterol, 17.8 g protein, 58.2 g carbohydrates, 5.3 g fiber, 270 mg sodium.
Sautéed Escarole and Chickpeas
5 cups sliced escarole
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup rinsed and drained chickpeas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash and dry lettuce. Slice into 2-inch strips. Heat oil in a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chickpeas. Sauté 1 minute. Add escarole to skillet and sauté 3 minutes stirring as the lettuce cooks. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.
Per serving: 179 calories (23 percent from fat), 4.6 g fat (0.6 g saturated, 1.7 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 8.9 g protein, 27.4 g carbohydrates, 5.5 g fiber, 17 mg sodium.