With the clatter of forks and spoons, and the lyrical slurp of the last bite, pasta can be a particularly musical food. It should be no surprise then that music and carbohydrates have collided in the form of chitarra pasta. A chitarra is an Italian instrument, not unlike a guitar, that was used as a quick and easy way to cut pasta. Now you can find chitarras exclusively for pasta making, but the rustic necessity of grabbing a musical instrument to help make dinner still lingers in the texture of this toothsome pasta. If you can't find chitarra pasta or don't feel like making it yourself, spaghettini works fine as well. For a fine pasta like this one, I wanted to make a sauce that played up its texture and didn't overwhelm it. It's so easy for finer pastas to get lost in the sauce, so I kept the sauce on the lighter side, just barely coating each bite. Chile adds heat, bacon adds... bacon, and the bread crumbs and pine nuts add a lovely crunch to the whole thing. Enjoy!
For 2 to 4
1/2 cup roughly chopped thick cut bacon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 fresh red chile (cayenne or red serrano)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup whole flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup arrabiata pasta sauce (recipe below)
8 ounces dried chitarra pasta, or spaghettini (reserve 1 cup cooking liquid)
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated parm
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
In a 12 to 14-inch sautée pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until barely crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the olive oil, chile, and garlic to the pan and slowly sweat until the garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add the pine nuts, parsley, arrabiata pasta sauce and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and bring to a simmer. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until tender yet al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the tomato mixture. Toss over high heat for 1 minute. Scoop the pasta into bowls, sprinkle with bread crumbs and parm, drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.
INGREDIENTS (ARRABIATA PASTA SAUCE)
For 4 cups
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS (ARRABIATA PASTA SAUCE)
Heat up oil, add garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine. Cook 5 min., add basil and cook another 5. Using an immersion blender (or just pour the mixture into a blender), puree the sauce. Season to taste.
For more recipes like this one, check out my blog The Kitchy Kitchen.