Spaghetti Amatraciana

by on / Paleo Diet

Confession. This is my first real pasta post. Another confession. This will NOT be my last. I present, an amazing dish, Spaghetti Amatraciana. 


In June I went to Italy with a group of friends to celebrate finishing our second year of medical school and taking our first round of boards. We flew into Rome. We spent half the trip in Rome, and half on the Amalfi coast in a little town called Atrani. My heart was SO full and my belly too. With pasta, wine, seafood, and gelato of course! OH oh and cannolis.

Healthy right? Well the Italians say they do eat pasta every day, but not like in America. Smaller portions, less sauce. They also start every morning with a croissant and a cappacino. A hearty breakfast. And one I could get used too.


I went to a cooking class in Rome, specifically to learn how to make pasta. Let me start by saying they make it look easy. It was easy when we had chefs guiding us and helping us get the dough to the right consistency. Since then I have made pasta 3 times at home. It has not been easy and when I master it I will let you know. This recipe I used a gluten free brown rice pasta that came out delicious. I suggest you do the same unless you’re a pasta genius/chef already!
amatraciano 1

I know it’s all “eat pray love” of me to fall in love with Italy… But I have no shame. I hope to visit Italy so many more times in my life. Rome had a romantic vibe that I couldn’t get enough of. Every street a new adventure and a new site to see. One afternoon we even heard a woman practicing opera outside of her window. That was a moment to remember.


The coast was so beautiful. And you know it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world when the next week the Kardashians and other celebrities are visiting the very spot we boated to. We stayed in Atrani, but made our way to Amalfi, Positano, Ravello, and Capri. Each spot had a different charm. I was glad we stayed in Atrani, it felt like we were locals for a few days. Their world revolves around good food. I don’t think Italians go a day without an excellent meal. I’d like to live my life the same.


Now a little bit about this recipe. This dish is called Spaghetti Amatraciana. The Italians said this is a splurge meal for them, because they don’t traditionally eat fatty meats every night. But I think it’s worth a try to impress yourself, or maybe cook for a friend or significant other. It may look like regular spaghetti, but it’s got a kick to it and the red sauce has the flavors of the fatty pork. So good. I made it once with pork belly and once with pork cheeks or jowl, aka guanciale. Traditionally Amatriciano is made with Guanciale. I found it at Rouse’s for you locals. I couldn’t find it at Whole Foods, but they do have pork belly.

With all out on the table, no I don’t eat Paleo anymore. I should write a post on it… maybe called “breaking up with paleo.” I just was sick of following food rules. And I looked at people like my grandparents who are in their mid to late 80s, thriving for their age, eating a very healthy diet without strict food rules, and I just didn’t think I needed it. I learned how to eat healthy, love vegetables, listen to body and find the balance of eating well. More on this to come if you’re interested.

Enjoy this Spaghetti Amatraciana!! Comment below with your thoughts. 

Spaghetti Amatraciano

Serves 4
a spicy twist on traditional spaghetti

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  1. 1 lb pork jowl
  2. 1 cup dry white wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc)
  3. 28 oz tomato puree
  4. 1-2 TB red pepper flakes, to taste
  5. Salt and pepper, to taste
  6. 14 oz brown rice pasta
  7. Parmesan, optional for topping
  1. Cut the pork jowl into ½ inch pieces.
  2. Place in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cooking until almost crispy.
  3. Add dry white wine. Allow liquid to evaporate for about 10 minutes. Stirring frequently.
  4. Add tomato puree, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Continue stirring and allow flavors to incorporate.
  5. In the meantime, boil a separate pot of water. Add salt. Place your pasta in the water once it is at a boil. It may only take 3-5 minutes, if you want your pasta al dente.
  6. Serve hot!!
  1. For the brown rice pasta I used a brand called Tinkyada. It was delicious!
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