Easy Tuesday Dinner; Pasta with Pancetta, Arugula and Pecorino

by formerchef on September 22, 2009



I finally got my mother to part with the remainder of the pancetta we made. Of course, I had to promise to make her dinner in return for her parting with the divine piece of pork.

Next month we’re going to Rome for a week . So, in honor of our upcoming trip, here’s my best attempt at a recreation of my favorite pasta of the trip, trofe e cicoria e guanciale. Technically, guanciale is bacon made from a pig’s cheek, but pancetta is close enough.
This pasta is a great addition to the Easy Tuesday Dinner series because it’s done in the time it takes to cook the pasta (about 10 minutes). It’s even faster if you buy your pancetta diced and cheese already shaved/grated.


Pasta with Pancetta, Arugula and Peccorino

Printable Pasta Recipe

1 lb short pasta (I used organic pasta with a shape called gemelli)
5 oz diced pancetta (you can also use a thick cut bacon, or make your own, like we did)
4 oz wedge of pecorino romano (1/2 grated, 1/2 shaved)
7 oz fresh Arugula
2 cloves fresh garlic, sliced very thin
2 oz olive oil
fresh ground pepper
kosher salt

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water. Cook until al dente and drain, reserving a 1/3 cup of pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, dice up the pancetta and grate the cheese. Slice the garlic.

In a large saute pan or wok, cook the pancetta over a medium flame. When the pancetta is crisp, toss in the sliced garlic and cook for 1 minute. 


Turn down the flame and toss in the arugula. Quickly saute until soft with the pancetta. Add in the pasta with the reserved water and combine. Drizzle in the olive oil and the grated cheese and combine. The cheese and olive oil, when combined with the pasta water, thicken to coat the pasta, making the “sauce” for this dish. 
Grind in some black pepper, add a pinch of salt, and at the very end, add in the shaved pecorino, reserving some for the top garnish.


Though I’m a day early, this post is part of Wanderfood Wednesday, a travel/food blogging carnival. Make sure to check them out.


Printable Pasta Recipe

1 Myscha Theriault September 23, 2009 at 5:44 am

Great recipe!

We lived in Italy for two years, and I miss those simple little pasta combinations the trattorias always served. Great photo also, btw.

2 Noelle September 23, 2009 at 8:30 am

This looks lovely! I just posted a pasta recipe yesterday stating how easy it was to make pasta dishes even with a BUSY schedule. Looking forward perousing your blog!

3 Lauren September 23, 2009 at 9:56 am

That looks delicious – I’ll have to look for some pancetta.

4 Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen September 23, 2009 at 10:11 am

This looks great! I love everything about this dish! Have a great time in Rome! We were there in March (my husband grew up there) and it is wonderful! Enjoy!

5 ADMIN September 23, 2009 at 10:51 am

Fantastic flavors here! And don’t you just love it when something so awesome is also quick? That homemade pancetta… to die for!

6 Wanderluster September 23, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Super yum and delicious-looking. Can’t wait to try a version without the pancetta 🙂

7 formerchef September 23, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Are you vegetarian? The pancetta adds a lot of flavor (and salt) to the dish. Without it, it might be a little bland. You might try adding something like an oil cured olive or something else with a strong flavor to compensate.

8 Kathy September 23, 2009 at 9:43 pm

What a wonderful way to use arugula! I grow it in the Fall, and I sort of run out of ideas after awhile, so I will definitely make this. Can you tell me – is there any difference between pancetta and bacon?

Have a great trip to Rome! I am jealous! I know you like gelato – be sure to go to the little gelato place that is around to the right of the Pantheon – to the right as you face the Pantheon from the piazza.


9 formerchef September 23, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Hi Kathy- Bacon is usually cured and then smoked and Pancetta (Italian Bacon) is usually just cured. There’s a lot more on this in my post about making bacon. My mom recently made another batch and smoked it, but I have not tried it yet. I’ll look for your gelato place, though I must admit to already having a favorite; Frigidarium.

10 jessiev September 27, 2009 at 8:09 am


11 gaga October 5, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Wow, you made your own pancetta. I’m super impressed! This pasta looks tasty.

12 Alessandro May 29, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Great dish. I love the simplicity. I was searching for an arugula pasta recipe and I ran across your site. I’ll definitely be trying more of your recipes. Thanks!

Using a wok was a great tip. I’d never thought of that before. I found the pancetta stuck a bit, though, leaving some beautiful bits on the bottom of the pan. Any suggestions?

The second time I made this, I had some extra cherry tomatoes so I threw them in before the garlic and deglazed the wok with a little pinot grigio after everything had softened. It solved the sticky pancetta problem, but wasn’t really the same dish anymore.

13 formerchef May 29, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I’ve not had that issue with the pancetta before. There should be enough fat on the pancetta so that doesn’t happen. Deglazing it with the wine was a good idea though!

14 Melissa C. January 25, 2012 at 10:50 am

Made the recipe yesterday with a friend and it was a huge success. Great and simple!!!!!

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