rigatoni alla crumby amatriciana

Matching pasta sauces with pasta shapes is an Italian talent that is underappreciated in the US. Usually there is some wriggle room in the choice, but with some classic style sauces, one particular pasta is almost mandatory. bob has some sense of this but is fortunately unencumbered by the experience of growing up brainwashed by traditional combinations. When the full page photo of this recipe stared bob down when he opened it at random from one of the two bargain paperback pasta books in his office kept there for last minute consultation before heading to the store on the way home, it was clear that rigatoni were mandatory. Of course whole grain pasta is now another high priority, so there was not a lot of hopeful expectation that bob would find the right shape when he stopped at the new supermarket right next to campus for a quick supply buy prior to the experiment. What a pleasant surprise to find several  DeCecco whole wheat pastas, a low carb mix in several shapes, and several style bionaturae whole durum wheat pastas, including the target type: rigatoni! Those big floppy noodle tubes, once they're cooked, coated with the right sauce. Yum.

We bought these two bargain paperbacks on impulse since they were so cheap and seemed to show some promise, but rather than bring them home and add them to our cooking library (thus violating our ban on buying more photo packed pasta books that would sit unused on the shelf), we left them at the office so they could provide last minute supper ideas before going to the store on the way home for dinner. Since after is usually too late. Unfortunately they sat unused for this purpose for several years until this occasion. Better late than never.


what they said what we did
3 T olive oil 3 T olive oil
2 shallots, chopped 1 small onion, grated
8 rashers streaky bacon, chopped (optional) 2 1/8 inch slices pancetta, chopped into small pieces
2 t crushed dried red chillies 1 t red pepper flakes
14oz can chopped tomatoes with garlic and herbs 14.5oz can chili style diced tomatoes, plus
8oz can garlic tomato sauce
6 slices white bread 4 slices whole wheat bread
1/2 c  butter 1/4 c (=1/2 stick=2oz) butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped 2 garlic cloves, pessed
1 lb rigatoni 1 lb whole durum wheat rigatoni
salt and freshly ground black pepper salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated parmigiano on each serving


  1. Rashers?
  2. Prep the bread by shaving off the crust and slicing into 12 or 16 pieces to put in the blender and crumb. We did 2 slices at a time. Set aside.
  3. Start the pasta water boiling.
  4. Prep the shallots/onion, open the can(s).
  5. Heat the oil in a saucepan (6 qt chef's pan)  and sauté the shallots/onion with the pancetta until nicely softened, maybe 6-8 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and tomatoes/sauce and simmer almost covered (splatter guard) for about 20 minutes to reduce the sauce.
  6. Meanwhile melt the butter with the oil and press in the garlic and add the bread crumbs and stir around, making sure you don't overdo it, about 10 minutes till they reach a golden crisp state.
  7. Cook the pasta al dente. The water has to be salted of course, but we never say that.
  8. Drain well and combine with the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper while at medium heat. Toss around for a minute or two.
  9. Combine with the bread crumbs if you are lazy like us, otherwise add the crumbs on top of each serving if you follow their advice.
  10. We added freshly grated pecorino romano grated cheese over each portion, since this is very reminiscent of amatriciana sauce.


  1. Great Pasta Sauces (The Heart of Italian Cooking) by Linda Fraser, Hermes House, Anness Publishing, London (2000): rigatoni with garlic crumbs, p.26.
  2. Del Monte zesty chili style diced tomatoes 14.5oz (411g) can. Hunt's roasted garlic tomatoes sauce 8oz (227g) can.
  3. 100% stone ground whole durum wheat bionaturae organic pasta (a product of Tuscany).
  4. The Fresh Grocer, the new super in town. Competition is good for the consumer.
    [Unfortunately our Villanova branch closed a few months after it opened, a big disappointment.]
  5. Illustrations available.
rigatonicrmbs.htm: 15-apr-2007 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]