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Spaghetti with Bacon, Onion, and Tomatoes (an inauthentic riff on Spaghetti all ’Amatriciana)

Spaghetti with Bacon, Onion and Tomatoes

Recipe by thesal28_wp



This is my weeknight riff on Pasta all ’Amatriciana, which hails from Amatrice, Italy.

The first time I posted the recipe on Instagram, a very kind reader whose family is from Amatrice, pointed out that: a) I bastardized the spelling of the dish; and b) they do not put onions in their sauce in Amatrice. However, Romans do add onions to theirs, and I distinctly (okay, vaguely) remember the sauce having onions in it when I first made it over 15 years ago in culinary school.

It is possible that I’ve been making it incorrectly all these years, but I’m okay with that because bacon and onions belong together. Also, onions are the least of my sins in this very inauthentic recipe, as the original dish uses guanciale, which is cured pork jowl, as the base, and I use good old bacon. Inauthentic it may be, but this is pasta is DELISH!


  • 8-9 pieces of bacon, thick cut

  • 28 oz tomato purée (you can also use chopped tomatoes)

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar

  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 lb. spaghetti

  • Freshly cracked black pepper

  • Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese for finishing 


  • Preheat oven to 375 °F and line a half sheet pan (18×13) with parchment paper. Lay each piece of bacon horizontally in pan. It’s okay if they overlap slightly, but don’t overcrowd the pan. Once oven is at 375° (or close), place pan in the oven and set a timer for 40 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the pan, and using the tongs to hold the bacon, carefully drain the fat into a CLEAN bowl or other safe receptacle (we will use the bacon grease to cook our onions). Flip the bacon, rearrange it in one layer, and return back to oven. You will be performing the drain and flip twice more, at ten minute intervals and when 40 minutes is up, you will have perfect bacon. (Time will vary slightly depending on thickness of bacon). After first bacon flip, move onto step 2.
  • Add 2 tbsp of the reserved bacon fat to a large (at least 12 inch) skillet and place over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and lower burner to medium heat. Stirring occasionally, sauté until until soft and translucent. Add tomatoes, sugar, and another pinch of salt. Bring sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then add black pepper and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low to keep sauce at a simmer while the bacon finishes cooking. To cook the spaghetti, bring 5-6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot and add 2-3 tbsp Kosher salt.
  • Once the bacon is finished cooking, remove it from the sheet pan and allow it to drain on a paper towel lined plate. Coarsely chop the bacon and set aside.
  • Cook the spaghetti to al dente. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
  • Ladle the pasta water into the sauce, a few tbsp at a time, and stir well to incorporate. Add half of your chopped bacon into the sauce and stir to incorporate.
  • Toss the spaghetti with sauce and serve immediately. Garnish with the remainder of the bacon and a generous dusting of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.

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