Main Course,  Recipes

Easy Tuesday Dinner; Pasta with Pancetta, Arugula and Pecorino

Pasta with Pancetta and Arugula
Pasta with Pancetta and Arugula

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

Pasta with Pancetta, Arugula and Peccorino
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bacon, pancetta, pasta
Servings: 4 Servings


  • 1 lb short pasta Example: gemelli
  • 5 oz diced pancetta or thick cut bacon
  • 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.
    Pasta with Pancetta
Pasta with Pancetta
Pasta with Pancetta, Arugula and Pecorino


  • Noelle

    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!

    • formerchef

      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.

  • Kathy

    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.


    • formerchef

      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.

  • Alessandro

    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.

    • formerchef

      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!

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