Pick-A-Pepper Pasta

For starters we had sliced plums wrapped in speck. Then we had Pick-a-Pepper Pasta that I made with bucatini, which is a hollow spaghetti.


  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1/4 pound guanciale, speck, pancetta, or bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, chopped
  • 1 red Fresno chile, seeded and chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pickled hot Italian cherry peppers, plus 2 tablespoons of the juice from the jar
  • 1 (28- or 32-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes (look for DOP on the label)
  • 2 cups passata, tomato puree, or tomato sauce
  • A few leaves of fresh basil, torn
  • A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound bucatini pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Grated pecorino cheese, for serving


In a deep skillet or a Dutch oven, heat the EVOO (2 turns of the pan) over medium-high heat. Add the guanciale and cook until lightly crisp. Add the onions, peppers, chile, and garlic and cook until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the pickled peppers and the juice from the jar to deglaze the pan—hold your head back or you’ll really clean out your sinuses. Add the tomatoes and crush them up a bit, then stir in the passata and basil. Simmer 30 minutes or so to thicken. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

When ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta al dente. Before draining, ladle out about a cup of the starchy pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter and half the sauce, adding some of the starchy cooking water if it’s too thick. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls topped with the remaining sauce and some pecorino cheese.

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