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Spaghetti Sancho Panza

 This is the fourth of the ten recipes my paternal Grandma Nonna Rita, made regularly for my Nonno Attilio and me.

For EVERY KIND of pasta dish, her secret was: Set aside a few ounces of hot water from the cooking of the pasta. No matter what the sauce is, it will help with tie all the ingredients together and the starch won’t turn your dish into a gluing mass.


One small onion, chopped

3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1/3 lb. of smoked bacon, cubed, or better yet, speck*

One pound of penne pasta or spaghetti (gluten-free pasta okay)

A pinch of saffron, pre-diluted in 3 TBSP of warm water

1/2 cup of pecorino cheese

1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

Sauteé the onion in a non-sticky, deep skillet, along with the bacon/speck, until the onion is transparent and the meat is crunchy. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the spaghetti (without breaking them!) and mix immediately to prevent sticking.

Drain the spaghetti and keep one glass full of water behind. Mix the pasta with the sauce, add the saffron, the two cheeses, the hot water (a little at a time until it feels right to you) and a pinch of pepper. Serve hot.

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