Sophie Minchilli – Author of The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing explores the southern Italian philosophy of Dolce Far Niente to help you find pleasure in the everyday.



This is my absolute favorite of the 4 Roman pastas. I pretty much love any pasta dish with tomato sauce, but the mixture of the crispy guanciale, sweet tomato sauce and salty pecorino, just make it the perfect pasta dish for any occasion. Traditionally we are meant to use bucatini as a pasta shape, but to be honest they are almost impossible to eat, and so I substitute them for spaghetti or rigatoni. When people ask me what my last meal on earth would be, I always answer Amatriciana.

Ingredients for 4 people

1 lb (500 gr) of rigatoni or spaghetti

2 thick slices of guanciale

16 ounces (500 gr) of canned tomatoes (make sure they are whole tomatoes, no matter the size)

1/4 cup (50 ml) white wine

A generous pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)

About 1 cup 80 gr) grated Pecorino Romano

  1. Put a pot of water to boil. In the meantime, chop the guanciale in thin strips and place it in a hot pan with no olive oil.
  2. Let the guanciale cook on low heat until the clear fat is released, then add the hot pepper (only if you like it) and white wine. Let it cook on low heat until the white wine has evaporated.
  3. Take the guanciale strips out of the pan and set aside. Make sure you leave the clear fat in the pan. Add the canned tomatoes and let cook until the sauce thickens.
  4. In the meantime, add the pasta to the boiling water and let cook.
  5. Once the sauce has thickened, add the guanciale and cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Drain the pasta when still very ‘al dente’ (it should have a bite to it). Remember to reserve a cup of pasta cooking water in case you might need it. Let the pasta finish cooking in the pot with the sauce. Keep stirring until the pasta is perfectly cooked. While mixing add the grated pecorino (keep some for serving)
  7. Once you have plated the pasta, put some extra grated pecorino on top of each dish

Recipes excerpted with permission from The Sweetness of Doing Nothing by Sophie Minchilli, published by Thorsons, 2022