Whether I’m camping or cozying up indoors for the evening, this pancetta pasta recipe from famed Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis enters my dinner rotation on the regular. My best friend of 27 years introduced me to the recipe many years ago on a brisk, foggy night in San Francisco. Our hands were numb from the cold and the radiator was not doing its job. We needed to carb load and thaw out, and this recipe does the trick with only a handful of ingredients.

After making this recipe so many times I practically have it memorized, but I reached out to De Laurentiis herself for permission to share it with you. She agreed and even shared the history of the recipe along with some helpful substitutions: “This is my simple pasta inspired by the classic Roman dish Amatriciana. It comes together in just minutes, making it doable even for a weeknight dinner. The balance of salty pork, sweet tomatoes, spicy red pepper, and tangy Pecorino is one that is really hard to top, but Jade (my daughter) loves it when I make it with bacon and Parm too!”

Don’t overlook that last part. It’s so true. When camping (or when I’m short on supplies), I sub the cheese and meat for bacon and Parmesan, and the results are just as satisfying. I also like to top it with a significant mound of freshly shredded cheese, a little chopped parsley, and even more red pepper flakes for added punches of flavor. These of course are just suggestions; you’ll figure out a way to make it yours!

Pasta With Pancetta and Tomato Sauce

From Giada De Laurentiis

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Add the pancetta to a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato puree. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Season the sauce with salt, to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  3. Toss the linguine with the sauce in the skillet, adding some of the reserved cooking liquid until the pasta is moist, but being careful not to dilute the sauce. Toss with the cheese. Season with salt, to taste.

For more of Giada De Laurentiis’ tasty Italian recipes, check out her blog Giadzy.

(Photos via Brittany Griffin / Brit + Co)