Between their race cars and rapid-fire dialects, the Italians are known for keeping a molto rapido pace. This recipe is an homage to that speed—it turns traditional pasta amatriciana (pasta with pancetta) into a meal that can be prepared in just 20 minutes. You’ll be crushing the tomatoes for the sauce with your hands, just to get a feel for that Old World rusticity. But once they go in the pan, everything comes together with just a few easy stirs.
Whole Peeled Tomatoes
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Wash and dry all produce. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (TIP: Keep it covered to speed things up.) Heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Halve, peel, and dice onion. Trim woody bottom ends from asparagus, then cut stalks into 1-inch pieces.
Add onion and half the pancetta to pan once hot (use remaining pancetta as you like). Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook, tossing, until onion is soft and pancetta is crisped, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a medium bowl and break up with your hands into small pieces.
Once water is boiling, add tagliatelle to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chewy on the outside but still firm in the center, 6-7 minutes. Add asparagus to pot and cook until bright green and just tender, 3-5 minutes more (the tagliatelle should be al dente at this point). Carefully scoop out and reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain.
While tagliatelle cooks, add tomatoes and ½ cup water to pan with pancetta and onion. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and reduce to a gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer until tagliatelle and asparagus are ready.
After you’ve drained the tagliatelle and asparagus, reduce heat under pan with sauce to low. Stir in peas and cream cheese. Cook, stirring, until cream cheese is fully mixed in and peas are warmed through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Add tagliatelle, asparagus, and ¼ cup reserved cooking water to pan with sauce. Toss to combine and evenly coat. Season with salt and pepper. Add more pasta water as needed if mixture seems dry. Divide between plates and sprinkle with Parmesan.