Of Rome’s 4 Classic Pastas, I believe pasta alla gricia gets the least respect. It’s simpler relative, cacio e pepe, is all the rage, in North America at least. If people want to step up from that, they typically bypass alla gricia and either go with the creamier carbonara sauce or the classic red sauce, amatriciana. I’m here to encourage you to stop bypassing it and to try and develop some love for the in between dish.
First off, if you love cacio e pepe, you really want to try alla gricia, especially this version from Ali Slagle, Salami Pasta Alla Gricia Recipe in NYT Cooking. It’s especially great with a peppery salami: it will stimulate your taste buds like crazy. For pepper lovers like me, it’s irresistible!
It’s also a super simple pantry dish. You can keep salami and a chunk of cheese in your fridge for a long time. When you are hungry but still want something flavorful, this hits the spot. Perhaps you were thinking of making carbonara but don’t have any eggs (or enough eggs). Make alla gricia instead. Or you want to make amatriciana but it’s just for you and you think “meh I don’t want to open a large can of crushed tomatoes just for me”. Again, alla gricia is what you want.
Sure you can be traditional and make it with guanciale or even pancetta, but here’s the thing. Salami can be very inexpensive. And easy to buy. So not only is it a fast dish, but it’s a cheap and easy one as well.
(Plus, can I just say that I am not a fan of guanciale. It can have almost a gamey taste. I can see why people love that. But it’s not for me.)
If you want, serve it with a simple green salad and a just-as-simple Italian(-American?) dressing. A caesar salad would also be fine: here’s a classic version and here’s a lazy version. As for what to drink? I think any Italian white or even a light red. I love a good pecorino but also a vermentino. But if you are a soave fan or a pinot grigio lover, by all means. Enjoy!
P.S. If you can’t access the NYT Cooking, you can also see the recipe here, Salami Pasta Alla Gricia | Recipe Cart. Speaking of the Times, here is their Pasta Amatriciana Recipe – NYT Cooking which seems to be accessible to everyone.
P.S.S. I find for many dishes, a simple green salad makes the meal that much more pleasurable. If you moan, “sure, just what I need, another thing to make”, take heart. A simple green salad is fast to whip up. To see what I mean, read this (how to make a simple side salad).