Spaghetti with Pancetta, Pecorino & Rosemary Crumbs

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Limoncello and Linen Water

Limoncello and Linen Water

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2012

  • About

This is my sister-in-law Luisa’s recipe. The tomato here is not much — enough to give just a light coating. Use a day-old country-style bread for the crumbs. The kind of pasta that Luisa would serve with this is pici, a thick, hand-rolled flour and water pasta that is much appreciated. A thick spaghetti would also be great.


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed with the flat of a knife
  • 80 g ( oz) breadcrumbs, made from day-old crustless country-style bread
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 40 g ( oz) pancetta, sliced about 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick, roughly cut up
  • 3 tomatoes from a tin
  • a little ground chilli
  • 350 g (12 oz) thick spaghetti or pici
  • 40 g ( oz) thinly shaved mature pecorino or parmesan


To make the crumbs, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil here and there over the bot tom of a large frying pan that will eventually hold all your pasta. Add 1 garlic clove and the breadcrumbs and gently sauté until golden, turning through with a wooden spoon so they all get a turn to tan evenly. Add the rosemary and a little salt (bread in Tuscany is generally unsalted, but if your bread is salted you may not need to add any). When the rosemary smells good and you have turned it through and brought out its flavour, scrape the crumbs into a bowl. Wipe out the frying pan with a paper towel and return it to the heat.

Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. In the frying pan, heat the remaining 5 tablespoons of olive oil with the remaining garlic clove and add the pancetta. Sauté until lightly golden, then add the tomatoes. Break them up with a wooden spoon and simmer for 5 minutes or so, just to warm them in the oil. Season with salt and ground chilli.

Cook the pasta until al dente, scoop it out with a spaghetti fork and add to the sauce in the frying pan. Add some of the pasta cooking water to help it along. Turn through to distribute everything evenly, then divide among 4 warm wide pasta bowls. Serve a little per bowl at first, as much of the good sauce goes to the bottom and it’s not fair if the last portion gets it all. (In fact, it is said that the guest should get the last plate.) Pile the breadcrumbs over the pasta, heap some shaved pecorino over and give a good grind of black pepper. Serve at once.