Weeknight Cooking

Daddy's Pasta

December 10, 2018
4 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4, plus leftovers
Author Notes

Daddy’s pasta is a variation on pasta all’arrabbiata, a low-touch, slick sauce of tomato, red pepper flakes, and cheese. Tad started out shadowing the classic, but soon broke out on his own, adding chopped bacon and a bit more tomato. Rather than a long noodle, which was difficult for our kids to twirl and swallow, he used penne rigate, then orecchiette. His pasta shape du jour is now rotelle, because the tomatoes and bacon get trapped in its spokes. He tinkered and honed, making mental notes of our dinner table reviews and translating them into the next version: 1. Cook down the sauce longer so it really clings to the noodles. 2. Let the pasta sit for a few minutes before serving, which helps the whole shebang bond.

This recipe was featured on our new cook-along podcast Play Me a Recipe. Listen as Amanda cooks her way through this recipe, offering insider tips and backstory along the way.Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 8 ounces bacon, cut in 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • 1 3/4 cups canned chopped tomatoes (preferably Pomi)
  • 1 pound rotelle
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving
  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, spread the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium heat; brown the bacon and render the fat. Scoop out the bacon and set aside on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan, then add 1/4 cup olive oil to the pan and warm over medium heat.
  3. Drop in the tomato paste and add the red pepper flakes; turn the heat to low and stir just until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and turn off the heat.
  4. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until truly al dente—you’ll be cooking it a bit more with the sauce. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
  5. Add the pasta, bacon, and the reserved pasta water to the tomato sauce, then stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated. Season with salt if necessary, then add the 3 tablespoon olive oil, tossing well. Serve immediately, with a sprinkling of Parmesan on top of each bowlful.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Stacie McKinnon
    Stacie McKinnon
  • Thegourmettrain
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

4 Reviews

Stacie M. September 27, 2019
I've made this twice. Both times were good and fun to make. I loved using bacon since it always seems to have a home in my freezer yet I never actually cook with it. Better than the taste is the story behind it - a chef's kids preferring the non-chef dad's go-to dinner. The story inspired me to stop cooking a hundred trial dishes a year but instead to perfect existing dishes and be the mother who cooks the best ____, ____, and _____. The first time I made this I felt the bacon was undercooked. The second attempt I think I overdid it on the quantity of pasta because it came out too dry. In addition to that, I basically made Bacon Bits - waaay overcooked. Next time I'll watch my pasta quantity and stop somewhere short of Bacon Bits. I might even add in the red onion suggestion from another commenter and add burrata. Regardless it's a hit and a staple in my house. THANKS!
Amanda H. September 28, 2019
Hi Stacie -- thanks for sharing your notes!
Thegourmettrain December 13, 2018
Sounds delicious! I make a similar pasta and I call it a spicy amatriciana: I omit the tomato paste, but start off by cooking the bacon then taking it out and caramelizing a red onion with some red pepper flakes in the bacon fat and then adding the crushed tomatoes and lastly the bacon again. :) I use Rigatoni and then serve the whole thing with fresh burrata….pure decadence :D.
Thegourmettrain December 13, 2018
BTW I also remove some of the bacon fat before caramelizing the onions in the bacon fat….