With guanciale

A simple sauce of sauteed guanciale and grated zuchini, with a pinch of saffron for color and flavor. For recipe, see below. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

Cook: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from "The Glorious Pasta of Italy." Guanciale, cured pork jowl, has a more pronounced pork flavor than pancetta, cured pork belly. If you are unable to find guanciale, substitute an equal amount of pancetta, which is more commonly available, or regular bacon.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces guanciale or pancetta, sliced 1/4 inch thick, cut into strips 1/2 inch long
1 small to medium zucchini, shredded, patted dry
Generous pinch saffron threads
Fine sea salt, optional
Freshly ground pepper
1 recipe fresh egg noodles
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat a large pot of water to a rolling boil; salt generously. While the water is heating, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the guanciale; stir to coat with the oil. Cook until it has rendered some of its fat and has just begun to crisp but is still mostly soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn off the heat; add the zucchini and saffron, stirring to combine. Taste and add salt, if you like; grind in pepper to taste. Cover to keep the sauce warm.

2. Gently drop the noodle nests into the boiling water; use a large serving fork or wooden spoon to separate them. Begin checking the pasta for doneness within 1 minute; fresh egg noodles cook quickly. They should be just tender but not at all soft or mushy. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup cooking water.

3. Transfer the pasta to the skillet with your sauce; toss gently to combine the noodles and sauce thoroughly, adding a splash or two of cooking water if needed to loosen the sauce. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl or individual shallow bowls; sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 520 calories, 27 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 174 mg cholesterol, 51 g carbohydrates, 17 g protein, 672 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

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