Pasta Shells with Pancetta, Tomatoes, and Potatoes

This dish is Italian comfort food at its best.

One Pound Of Large Pasta Shells
A Russet Potato Peeled And Diced Into About ½ Inch Wide Cubes
¼ Cup Of Cubed Pancetta
¼ Cup Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Cup Of Chopped Italian Parsley
¼ Cup Of Finely Chopped Onion
12 Ounces Of Hand Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes
A Minced Garlic Clove
A Tablespoon Of Finely Chopped Celery
½ Teaspoon Of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
¾ Teaspoon Of Sea Salt

Combine the pancetta and the olive oil in a large pot. Cook on low heat until the pancetta becomes crispy. Add the potatoes and cook on medium low heat stirring frequently for three minutes. Add the onion, the tomatoes, the celery, the garlic, the sea salt, and the red pepper flakes. Continue to cook on medium low heat while stirring frequently until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart. Taste and add more sea salt and/or red pepper flakes, if desired.

In the meantime, cook the shells in a pot of boiling, salted water according to the package instructions. Before draining the pasta, remove one cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside.

Drain the pasta well in a colander when cooked al dente (tender but still firm to the bite). Add the cooked pasta and the pasta water to the pot with the potatoes, tomatoes, and the olive oil. Cook on medium heat while stirring for two minutes until the sauce thickens slightly and then coats all of the shells. Add the chopped parsley and mix well. Serve with grated cheese.

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