As hinted in the title, this is an adaptation of a recipe in Giada’s Everyday Pasta, one of her many books I’ve been revisiting over the last few months for another project. One of the most useful techniques she’s helped to introduce into American kitchens is the concept of a no-cook sauce in which you can toss hot pasta, and how versatile it is. She started with her famous lemon spaghetti, but I’ve noticed that she’ll use the same elements: citrus, oil, cheese, and herbs–to start creating variations on that theme to very different results.
If it seems weird that I’m writing about what many perceive to be a highly-seasonal winter citrus fruit in August, well, you’re not wrong to think so, but it’s because I’ve been able to buy bags of them through mid-July. The thing with citrus varieties is that as they gain popularity, growers add more of their trees to their groves, thus extending their season of availability. That window has finally come to a close, however, though at least it’s just in time for tomato season to get underway. More on that later.
Here, she has you infuse olive oil with red pepper flakes (or cut-up red chiles, in my case), and then add parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and lemon juice/zest to the bowl, but I wanted to push it a little further. I browned some cubes of pancetta to add to the sauce, used Meyer instead of regular lemons, and Pecorino Romano cheese for a little added hit of saltiness and sharpness. The thin strands of tagliolini cling to this incredibly light sauce quite nicely, and it works well for a dinner party as much as it does chilling out on the couch on a Sunday evening. I actually really like it while entertaining because you can make the sauce ahead of time if you’d like, but you can also do it while chatting with your guests. As much as I love a good pasta finished in a pan with sauce, sometimes it’s helpful to not have to fuss over that too much when you want to be a good host.
If Meyer lemons aren’t available when you want to make this, using a regular lemon and a tangerine or two is a good substitute if you want that subtle sweetness, or using regular lemons is fine too. If you do spot a bag of Meyers though, grab them to make this pasta–you’ll be happy you did.
Spicy tagliolini with pancetta, Meyer lemon, and Pecorino Romano cheese
Inspired by Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2-3 small spicy dried red peppers (Japanese or Arbol), cut into rounds with scissors
- 1 recipe nine-yolk pasta dough (recipe here) at room temperature
- 4 ounces pancetta, cubed
- Zest and juice from two Meyer lemons or one lemon and 1-2 tangerines
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- ⅔ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, plus more for garnishing
- Kosher salt to taste
Make the spicy oil: in a small saucepan, combine the peppers and the oil and simmer on medium low for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.
Cook the pancetta on medium-low in a small pan until crispy. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel, and save the fat for another use (I put mine in a ramekin).
Roll out the pasta using a pasta machine (I go to 6 on my Mercato Atlas 150) and then cut the pasta using the narrow cutter (this is the narrow cutter that comes with my machine). Wrap them in nests and place them on silicone mats or parchment paper.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. While the pot is heating, add the spicy oil, the pancetta, the citrus juice and zest, the parsley, and the cheese to a large bowl and stir well to combine.
When the water is boiling, season with kosher salt and cook the pasta for about 2-3 minutes or until floating. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl, using tongs to combine the pasta with the sauce. Serve immediately in bowls with more Pecorino if desired.