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Dinner Tonight: September 5, 2019 Luca's Pancetta Pasta

Luca's Pancetta Pasta


One person closes his eyes and tries to remember details asked by the others at the table: Color of the walls? What shirt is Dad wearing?


Courage doesn't always look like a big, bold action. Can you think of small, everyday acts that represent bravery?

This quick and easy pasta dish is a favorite of Executive Director Lynn Barendsen’s son Luca, who ranks it as one of the family dinners that makes him smile after a long day at school. Lynn recommends keeping the pancetta in the freezer, which makes it easier to dice neatly, and says it’s important to serve this rich dish with a big side salad!


Serves 4

  • 1 lb. spaghetti, linguine or  other long pasta
  • 4 thick slices pancetta, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)


  1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water. Stop cooking 1-2 minutes before the pasta reaches al dente — it will finish cooking with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the starchy water from cooking.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and saute until golden brown and crisp.
  4. Remove pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  5. Add garlic to the pan and saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant but not browned.
  6. Return the pancetta to the pan and add the pasta and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Toss to coat.
  7. Add the reserved pasta water and lemon juice and mix well. Cook for an additional minute or two to finish cooking the pasta through.
  8. Add the chopped parsley and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes as desired. Mix well and serve with grated Parmesan at the table.
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