One of Brandon’s all-time favorite dinners is pasta with red sauce so I wasn’t surprised when he requested it for our first “return to normal eating and homecooked meals” after the holidays. I wasn’t really in the mood for traditional spaghetti sauce and Brandon suggested arrabbita sauce. Spicy homemade marinara sauce with pancetta sounded perfect.
We usually top stuffed shells with arrabbita but I was not in the mood for the richness of stuffed shells after the holidays so we stuck with plain spaghetti noodles. This ended up being a great choice because it really allowed the awesome flavor of the arrabbita sauce to be the star. The pancetta is a must in the sauce – it adds so much flavor and richness. The red pepper flakes don’t dominate the dish but contribute a nice, slow burn.
I used my go-to marinara sauce as the base for this sauce and added the sauteed pancetta and red pepper flakes at the end. If you have never made homemade marinara sauce, you must! It tastes nothing like what you buy in a jar. I recommend doubling this recipe and keeping a batch in the freezer for a quick dinner option. It reheats wonderfully.
Pasta with Arrabbita Sauce
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 stalk celery, broken into 4 pieces
1 carrot, finely diced
32-ounces high-quality crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Pinch of sugar
Shot of red wine (1-2 tablespoons)
1/3 pound (around 6 ounces) pancetta, chopped
2 teaspoons (or more if you like spice!) red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, julienned
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes, until they begin to look translucent. Add garlic, celery and carrot and cook for another 5 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar and red wine. Simmer for 1 hour over low heat, uncovered.
While sauce is simmering, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then pancetta. Sautee about 5 minutes, or until it begins to look crispy. Add red pepper flakes and sautee for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into marinara sauce.
Season with salt and pepper and stir in fresh basil right before serving.
Yield: 4 servings