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Easy Italian Pasta Recipes: Pancetta, Broccolini, and Pecorino Romano Pasta

Easy Italian Pasta Recipes: Pancetta, Broccolini, and Pecorino Romano Pasta

Italian food has always been and will probably always be my favorite cuisine to make. I’m sure living in Sicily for three years gave me a certain affinity towards not only the culture, but the food as well. Much of the food is prepared quite simply with few ingredients. But the ingredients share one commonality. Freshness.

Unlike Americans, you’ll typically see Europeans at the market daily. It’s not uncommon for them to purchase the groceries that they need for only that day, and perhaps for breakfast the following day. Even then, in the small town I lived, most Sicilians stopped at their local cafe for a caffè (coffee) and a pastry for breakfast each morning.

sicily landscape lilchefchic pixabay



I lived above a little woman named Nuncia in the small town Piano Tavola, which was about 20 minutes from Catania. Catania is a beautiful ancient city sitting at the foot of Mt. Etna, an active volcano. It’s the second largest city on the island (Palermo being the first) and is rich in history and culture. Besides having the best view of the volcano, the town is full of things to see and do.etna sicily lilchefchic


Several castles still stand on the island and the Ursino Castle is open to tourists to view from the inside. The Piazza Del Duomo is the main square in Catania filled with shops and resturants. This is also where you’ll find the market, which is open stalls of any and everything you could possibly want to take home for dinner. The food is fresh and grown locally in the fertile soil around the volcano. There’s an array of vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses. In this same market you’ll also find the Pescheria (fish market) where fish that were swimming just that morning are displayed on tables full of packed ice. You can’t get fish any fresher.


This recipe pays homage to the ingredients used in Sicily and to the techniques carried out by the locals. Fresh vegetables, prized panchetta, zippy citrus, and crunchy toasted pine nuts. Even local Sicilians can’t always have (or have time to make) fresh pasta. All of my coworkers and friends in Sicily swore by Barilla pasta when fresh just wasn’t an option, so that’s what I’m using for this simple recipe.duomo sicily lilchefchic

The creaminess in this dish surprisingly does not come from the dairy but rather the emulsification between the hot pasta water and the fat from the pancetta. I still like to cheese this guy up with salty and sharp pecorino which lends its own body to this dish. For the noodle shape I chose a simple spaghetti noodle that gets coated nicely by this voluptuous sauce and wraps ever so nicely around your fork. This recipe makes enough for 3 to 4 servings. I’d recommend a side salad and maybe some bread to go along with it.

Pancetta, Broccolini, and Pecorino Romano Pasta:


*8 oz. Broccolini, stem ends trimmed and cut into bite size piecesingredients lilchefchic


*1/2 Box Spaghetti Noodles, Barilla (8 oz.)


*3 oz. Pancetta, Diced

*Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*1 shallot, minced

*2 Cloves Garlic, minced

*1 tablespoon lemon zest

*1 cup pasta water, reserved

*1/4 to 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated

1 – 2 tablespoons Pine nuts, toasted (optional)


Prepare an ice bath for the broccolini. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add a couple of tablespoons of salt to the water and boil broccolini for 2 minutes. You don’t want to over season the water for the noodles because the panchetta and cheese both contain a high amount of salt on their own. Remove from water and plunge into ice bath until cool and remove to colander to drain.

broccolini lilchefchic

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to now boiling water and cook pasta to al dente. About 9 minutes. Start rendering pancetta in cold pan large skillet or 9″ deep pan. Cook on medium low heat until almost crisp. Add in shallot and cook for 2 minutes or until translucent and add in minced garlic. Cook another minute or so until fragrant. Season with fresh pepper and salt and stir in lemon zest. Using tongs gently add in cooked pasta as well as 1/3 cup of the pasta water and toss to coat.  Make sure to reserve about a cup of the pasta water to the side if your pasta is done before the pancetta. Add more pasta water as needed to create an even emulsion and add in about 1/4 cup of your grated pecorino. Toss and add the broccolini in to the dish. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking. Serve immediately with more cheese grated over the top.


This recipe is very simple but does take some technique. The trick is to have everything prepped and ready to go into the pan. So before you even turn the burner on and start cooking, make sure you’ve got all your prep work done. Garlic and shallots chopped as well as pancetta diced and broccolini trimmed, etc. With the prep work out of the way this dinner will come together very very quickly. The pine nuts are totally optional and are there to add a little textural crunch. If you’re not a fan of them..or the price..feel free to leave them off the plate.

When you think of your favorite Italian meal what does it include? If Italian is not your favorite cuisine, what tickles your fancy?



18 thoughts on “Easy Italian Pasta Recipes: Pancetta, Broccolini, and Pecorino Romano Pasta”

  • As someone who has started learning how to cook on their own, I like to experiment with plenty of dishes. I too am a fan of Italian cuisine. Hearing about this dish definitely gives me something to set a goal towards making in the upcoming weeks. Solid post!

    • Hi Dave! Thanks so much:) Keep it simple and please come back and let me know what concoctions you came up with:)

  • Jennifer,

    Thanks for your tips. My son loves pasta and I will definitely try PANCETTA, BROCCOLINI, AND PECORINO ROMANO PASTA. Have you ever thought about west african cuisine? I am sure you will find recipes of interest. I love fufu accompanied with peanut soup. Maybe something you might want to try out.

    • Hi Thierry,
      I will definitely look up fufu. I love trying different cuisines actually and I’ve never heard of that dish. Thank you for recommending that:) I have made peanut soup but more of an Asian version of it. My latest food reads have ventured into Middle Eastern cuisine but not specifically West Africa. I will definitely have a looksie upsie! Thanks!:)

  • I can’t wait to make this pasta, it looks so simple and delicious! Your story about Catania sounds so great. I’d love to go and visit sometime, having a local fresh market with fresh fish readily available has always been a dream of mine. I know the little things right.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Hi Mallory! It really is simple. Sometimes the simplest things are the bestestest:) Thank YOU for stopping by!

  • Hi Jennifer. The way you talk about Catania makes me want to pack my bags and go and live there. There is something so good about the resident’s lifestyles when they have time to go to the fresh food markets each day and buy what they need to lovingly prepare a meal to share with their family and friends. This is living! Buying processed foods and fast foods cannot compare to this wholesome way of life. Thank you for sharing your recipes and experiences from Sicily. I look forward to learning more.
    Kind regards

    • I totally agree with you Andrew. When you shop locally and buy in season it really benefits everyone:) Hope you get a chance to visit Sicily someday. It’s absolutely gorgeous!

  • This sounds delicious! I love pasta — I don’t care what anyone says about carbs! They’re tasty. And I wouldn’t have ever thought to add pine nuts, that’ll be fabulous for texture. I’m such a foody, I’ll try anything once! I was reading through the comments and saw that someone mentioned Fufu — I’ve never heard of this, so I’m on my way to Google that now! Thanks so much for all the recipe ideas (It’s getting pretty late in the year, even here in Tennessee, but regardless, I aim to try your Melon Ball recipe soon!)

    • Hey Courtney:)I’m the same way with food..I’ll try anything once. Actually, usually more than once just to see if it’s a go or no go. I even talked myself into loving cantaloupe, since you mentioned the melon ball recipe. I used to DESPISE cantaloupe and I told myself, “it’s juicy, smells wonderful, and is sooo sweet and refreshing! How can you not love it?!” And so, it worked! Thanks for visiting and please come back:)

  • I ablsolutely love Italian food. Never been to Italy and wish to go some day.
    Having been to France many times and discovering the European way of shopping, this is what we do now and it’s really great.

    This recipe sounds terrific and simple and I have booked marked it to come back and make it this week.


    • Ya know Stewart I didn’t make it to France and I was so close! I wish I would have explored that area of the world more while living there! The Mediterranean is sooo beautiful. And I agree about the shopping. Once you make it just part of your day you waste a lot less food! Thanks for bookmarking and please come back to chat:)

  • Hey, my passion is cooking, an I’m gonna try making the Pancetta Broccolini pasta… should be delicious!! Can’t wait to make it and try it. Yo have a really nice site with a lot of interesting recipes, so I’ll visit often. Thanks for sharing.

    • Glad you stopped by again Terry! Thanks for the comments and the awesome compliment! Hope you’ll be back again with your results:)

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