This classic Roman pasta sauce always features Pecorino Romano, guanciale, and plenty of black pepper. But if I’m making a few dishes for a dinner party, like this Roman-style stuffed zucchini, I’ll often enrich the pasta with the insides of the zucchini that’s leftover from the recipe. After all, there’s no sense in wasting the cored inside of the zucchini, which is suited to cooking in rendered guanciale fat until creamy. Toss the zucchini and guanciale with the pasta (a large, round type of pasta called mezze maniche), plus a little bit of pasta water, and stir it vigorously until a thick sauce forms.
guanciale, cut into 1 1/2 x 1/2-inch strips
Cored insides of 6 zucchini, roughly chopped
rigatoni, mezze maniche, paccheri, or other tubular pasta
grated Pecorino Romano
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the guanciale and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt, and cook until the zucchini is softened and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt the water. When the salt has dissolved, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Add a ladle of the pasta cooking water to the skillet with the zucchini and bring to a simmer. When the pasta is very al dente, drain, reserving the cooking water. Add the pasta and another ladle of its cooking water to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring vigorously, until a thick sauce forms, adding more water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
Remove the skillet from the heat and, add 3/4 cup of the Pecorino Romano, and mix thoroughly. Season to taste.
Plate and sprinkle each portion with some of the remaining Pecorino Romano and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.