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Pick-a-Pepper Pasta (Bucatini with Hot and Sweet and Pickled Peppers Sauce)

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Prep: 15 min
  • Cook: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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2 tablespoons EVOO

4 ounces guanciale, speck, pancetta or bacon, 1/4-inch dice

3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced

2 medium or 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped

1 red onion, chopped 

1 Fresno pepper, seeded and chopped

About 3 tablespoons hot pickled Italian cherry peppers, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons of their pickle juice 

One 28- to 32-ounce can D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes

2 cups passata or tomato puree or tomato sauce

A few fresh leaves basil, torn

A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound bucatini pasta (hollow spaghetti)

2 tablespoons butter

Pecorino cheese, to pass at table


  1. Heat a deep skillet or Dutch oven with the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the guanciale and brown until lightly crisp. Add the garlic, bell pepper, cubanelles, onions and fresno peppers, and cook until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the pickled peppers and a big splash of their juice, about 2 tablespoons, and deglaze the pan - hold your head back or you'll really clean out your sinuses. Add the tomatoes and crush up a bit, then stir in the passata and basil. Simmer to thicken 30 minutes or so. Add the parsley, season with salt and pepper. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal. Reheat over medium flame. 
  2. To serve: While the sauce heats, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve a ladle of the starchy cooking water and drain. Toss the pasta with the butter and half the sauce. Add a little starchy water if too thick. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls, topped with the remaining sauce and pecorino cheese.