This Rigatoni with Green Onion and Pancetta Tomato Sauce is a fast, easy and delicious pasta dish, perfect for busy weeknights!
This pasta is a re-creation of a dish I recently enjoyed at a local restaurant. Yes, I’m a serial re-creator! I was intrigued by the addition of green onion and I discovered that green onions and pasta make a perfect pairing. Who knew? I’d never considered green onion with pasta, at least not in a starring role. It was a revelation and with every bite I just knew I’d try my hand at making this dish at home.
I make pasta a lot for dinner. I’m sure that comes as no surprise to any regular reader of this blog. After all … I live for Carbs! That said, I’ve never been 100% satisfied with the tomato-based pasta dishes I make at home. They always seem to be missing the richness and smoothness of restaurant dishes.
Then I read a little tip online recently that suggested adding butter. Say what? Yes, butter + tomatoes = an awesome pasta dish. Uh huh. It seems that the butter works to knock back the acidic tomato taste, leaving just the richness and smoothness of the tomatoes that I was after.
In this dish, the vodka also works to heighten the tomato flavour. In fact, that’s it’s only role really, since vodka adds little in terms of taste. The pairing of the pancetta and the green onions really shines with the creamy tomato sauce. There is only a bit of cream in this one – just enough.
Cook’s Notes for Rigatoni with Green Onion and Pancetta Tomato Sauce
You can adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to your taste, or skip them altogether, if you don’t want any heat.
The vodka itself will cook off completely (the alcohol, that is) and leave behind just a tiny bit of flavour. If you’d prefer not to use alcohol or you don’t have any one hand, just skip it.
I regularly make this dish for my vegetarian daughter by just omitting the pancetta. And it’s still delicious! So don’t hesitate to make this one meatless.
Rigatoni with Green Onion and Pancetta Tomato Sauce
- 3 cups dried rigatoni pasta
- 1/2 cup diced pancetta
- 1 cup diced green onions green part only, plus more for garnish
- 1/8 tsp crushed red chili flakes
- 1/3 cup vodka
- 28 oz canned San Marzano tomatoes or other good quality canned tomatoes,
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Freshly grated Parmesan and additional diced green onion, for garnish
- Boil a large pot of water and salt generously. Add pasta and cook until al dente.
- Meanwhile, pour canned tomatoes into a bowl. Break the tomatoes up with your hand and discard any tough ends. Dice your pancetta and green onions and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook pancetta until browned. Remove to a bowl. Add green onions and cook, stirring, until softened and starting to brown (there should be a bit of fat from the pancetta in the pan, but if not, add a bit of butter). Add the chili flakes and cook briefly. Add vodka and cook off until only a few Tablespoons of the vodka remains. Add the tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the butter, sugar and salt and pepper, to taste. Add the cream and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low until pasta is ready.
- When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot. Add sauce and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. If necessary, add some pasta cooking liquid to loosen the sauce.
- Serve with additional fresh diced green onion and Parmesan.