Italian Pasta with Apples, Rosemary and Guanciale is the perfect marriage of flavors as smoky, peppery guanciale complements sweet, caramelized onions and apples, and it is all finished with the pungent bite of rosemary. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing in this post.
Did you know that the traditional pasta and apple recipes of Italy could fill an entire cookbook? I knew there was something I loved about the food of Italy–and bemoaned about Italian food here in this country. I know it is an old song and dance for me, but I will never understand why all Italian pasta dishes here have to be based around red sauces (either with or without meat) and white sauces that bear very little resemblance to white sauces in Italy (alfredo I am talking to you). I am so happy I went to Italy and was then inspired to acquire loads of Italian cookbooks full of traditional pasta dishes that look and taste nothing like the dishes I grew up with!
I owe this Italian Pasta with Apples, Rosemary and Guanciale to Francine Segan’s Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy, which also serves as my authority for my statement about the prevalence of pasta with apples recipes in Italy. I made this about a month ago, and I was instantly attracted to the combination of autumnal ingredients and flavors. My biggest change, aside from substituting pecorino romano for parm because we prefer pecorino, was to use guanciale instead of pancetta. Segan remarks upon the harmonizing of the freshly ground black pepper with sweet apple and onions and the pungent rosemary, which made me think of guanciale (cured pig jowl with black pepper). I am not the world’s biggest fan of pancetta–I find it mild and boring compared to our bacon here in the States. But that is not the case with the more assertive and much smokier guanciale, so I used it instead and only added a whisper of freshly ground black pepper.
A note about the pasta. As I’ve mentioned almost any time I am making a traditional Italian pasta recipe (versus a hodgepodge pasta toss, where I use healthier chickpea flour pasta), my pasta of choice is Rustichella d’Abruzzo. I always have a few varieties of shapes that appeal to me in my cupboard, so my choices are based on what I have around. For this Italian Pasta with Apples, Rosemary and Guanciale, I chose the Riccia, which reminds me of a pappardelle with wavy edges, and which I adore with just about any sauce. It is one of my favorites to keep on hand. But as always, don’t fret over finding the exact shape of pasta I used and instead just make sure you are using a good Italian pasta and cooking it in generously salted water.
And hey I just realized that I got so caught up in discussing how to make this Italian Pasta with Apples, Rosemary and Guanciale and what ingredients to use that I forgot to say–it is freaking delicious! It was devoured here at my house!
Adapted from Francine Segan. The original recipe called for Red Delicious apples, but in my opinion you should use a firm, sweet apple that was recently picked (if possible)--and if it has not been recently picked I would avoid Red Delicious because I don't think they last on supermarket shelves worth a darn. Fuji would be a nice choice if you have no local options.
- 1 lb pasta of choice (see comments above)
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 2 oz guanciale, chopped into large bite-sized pieces
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 sweet, firm apples, peeled and cored and then thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup dry white wine (anything you enjoy drinking)
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, plus any sprigs for garnish
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- grated pecorino romano for garnish
Boil the pasta according to directions in salted water. Cook until al dente, at which point drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking, choose a skillet large enough to toss all of the ingredients in, including the pasta. Heat the skillet over medium heat with the extra virgin olive oil.
Add the guanciale and cook for 5 minutes, moving around the pan occasionally.
Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, and then raise the heat to high and cook another 3-4 minutes.
Add the apples, wine and rosemary, and use the wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the tasty bits.
Cook on high until the wine evaporates, about 1 minute boiling briskly.
Season with freshly ground black pepper (remember that the guanciale also has black pepper so do not go crazy) and coarse sea salt.
Add the pasta to the pan along with 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss and cook for 1 minute, letting the pasta water boil off and become absorbed.
Remove the rosemary sprig if desired. Serve and top individual servings with grated pecorino romano. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs if desired.
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