The 2 Ingredients That Should Never Be Included In Your Amatriciana Pasta Sauce

There are many different types of pasta sauces and dishes that range from herby pesto to rich marinara and hearty Bolognese; however, one that tends to fly under the radar is pasta all'Amatriciana. Pasta all'Amatriciana separates itself from a spicy penne arrabiata or a savory pasta puttanesca in that it goes against the grain of using two key aromatic ingredients that are synonymous with Italy's cuisine. It uses neither onions nor garlic. In fact, adding these items actually complicates pasta all'Amatriciana and you don't want to do that.

While onions offer a sweet flavor, garlic adds a powerful sharpness to the dishes it touches; however, the qualities these two fragrant elements bring to the table are simply not needed for a pasta all'Amatriciana. Italian cooking tends to focus on just a few ingredients that complement and highlight each other in a subtle manner rather than distract. When onions and garlic are added to simple dishes like this, they can be overpowering both separately and when you combine them, especially if you already have components that hit the savory, sweet, and spicy notes.

Stick to tradition with pasta all'Amatriciana

Pasta all'Amatriciana relies on guanciale, which is salt-cured pork cheek, sweet tomatoes, salty pecorino Romano, and heat-inducing chiles to create a meal that has a depth of flavor and gives your taste buds all the delicious sensations it is supposed to. The exclusion of garlic and onions may seem sacrilegious, but it is best to follow Italian tradition with this recipe. Despite the omission of these two ingredients, pasta all'Amatriciana's individual elements come together to create a lovely balance without sacrificing taste. 

Guanciale really gives this dish its identity, but it can be tough to find if you don't have an Italian specialty store in your neighborhood. In this case, you can use pancetta, but it will change the rich umami that this salt-cured meat adds to your meal. When it comes to choosing the type of pasta noodles, go with a hearty option like spaghetti, bucatini, tonnarelli, or rigatoni. These pastas are substantial and will hold this beautiful sauce perfectly.