Growing up in an Italian family, I’m pretty sure we had pasta at least five times a week. Not that I’m complaining. Lasagna, baked ziti and stuffed manicotti were, and still are, staples at our family dinner table. These days, however, I try to lighten up these cheesy, rich (and so delicious) dishes into something equally delicious but a little more healthy. There will be plenty of authentic and carb-and-cheese-loaded Italian recipes on here, but there will also be lighter versions like pumpkin lasagna and spaghetti squash with turkey bolognese.
But don’t tell my mom that. The last time she was visiting, I suggested she use whole wheat pasta in her lasagna and she almost had a heart attack. “Don’t you ever say that to me again,” was her exact response, I believe.
This pasta dish is one of my go-to recipes when I’m craving pasta and I want something rich and filling, but not too heavy. It’s a perfect combination. It uses peppery pancetta, broccolini, parmesan and gets a zip from zesty lemon. The best part? It’s a snap to make. Angel hair cooks up in about 4 minutes, and from the time you put your water on the stove to boil to the time your pasta’s done, this dish will be ready for the table. It’s also pretty enough to serve guests. They don’t have to know how easy it was!
- 8 ounces whole wheat angel hair pasta
- 4 ounces thin sliced pancetta, cut into short ribbons
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch broccolini, chopped
- 1 lemon, zested + juiced
- 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
- ⅓ cup fresh grated parmesan + more for serving
- ½ cup pasta water
- olive oil
- sea salt + pepper
- fresh grated parmesan
- pancetta crumbles
- olive oil
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and heavily salt it (like the sea!)
- Heat a few drops of olive oil in a pan and once hot, add your pancetta. The olive oil will give your pancetta a head-start on rendering its fat. Cook your pancetta until crisp and remove with a slotted spoon.
- Keep the pancetta fat + olive oil in the pan, this will be your cooking fat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, stirring often to avoid burning. Once softened, add your broccolini and cook until tender. If your pan is dry, add a bit more olive oil. Season with salt + pepper. Add your pancetta back into the pan, reserving a handful for garnish.
- Add your angel hair pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. In general, angel hair should take about 4 minutes to cook until al dente.
- To your broccolini mixture, add the juice + zest of one lemon, the thyme, ⅓ cup of freshly grated parmesan and ½ cup of the pasta water. Make sure to add the pasta water when the angel hair is just about finished cooking (you want it to be nice + starchy to help form and thicken the sauce). If your sauce is too thick, add more pasta water. Let the sauce simmer for a minute. Season with more sea salt + pepper to taste, if it needs it.
- Drain your pasta into the pan and toss everything to combine. Serve immediately.
- To serve, swirl the pasta into bowls and top with a few drizzles of high quality olive oil, freshly grated parmesan, thyme and a sprinkling of crunchy pancetta. Enjoy!