Copycat Carrabba’s Cavatappi Amatriciana is a flavorful dinner, with a wonderfully zesty sauce and filling pasta that’s ready in 30 minutes!
Copycat Carrabba’s Cavatappi Amatriciana is a great weeknight meal that can be served with a beautiful salad and grilled chicken. Fun, swirly Cavatappi noodles and a simple homemade sauce of tomatoes, pancetta, onion, and Romano cheese come together for a delicious family meal everyone will love.
A Five-Star Home Kitchen
Raise of hands- who feels like a five-star chef when they make a well-loved and well-known restaurant dish? It’s easy to feel like an accomplished cook, even on a Tuesday, when you make Copycat Carrabba’s Cavatappi Amatriciana! This dish is beyond delicious and so easy to make, which I often do because the whole family can’t get enough of it! Be sure to bake a baguette and uncork your favorite wine for this dish.
Make more delicious restaurant dishes at home with Copycat Carrabba’s Chicken Bryan or Copycat Olive Garden Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara!
Other Recipes to Serve with Copycat Carrabba’s Cavatappi Amatriciana
- Make dinner look even more special, without much effort, with a pretty Easy Wedge Salad– it’s a wonderful side to this dish!
- There’s always time to serve up a great and tasty protein when you make Busy Weeknight Baked Chicken Breast!
Pasta: You will need Cavatappi noodles for this dish, or you can use Fusilli as well.
Dairy: Unsalted butter is needed for this dish, along with Romano cheese, which will be used in the dish and to garnish.
Vegetables: Pick up a yellow onion and garlic in the produce section, and then grab a large can of whole tomatoes. If you want to garnish the dish with fresh basil, be sure to pick that up too.
Seasoning: You will need salt and crushed red pepper flakes.
Pancetta: Big on flavor. Pancetta adds a lovely smokey flavor to this dish, so make sure you have some on hand.
How to Make Copycat Carrabba’s Cavatappi Amatriciana
STEP ONE: In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the chopped pancetta. Cook the pancetta until it turns golden brown, and then add the onion and garlic. Saute this mix for about 8 minutes.
STEP TWO: Crush or chop the canned tomatoes, but hang on to the tomato juice! Stir the tomatoes and juice into the saucepan, one cup of water, and the red pepper flakes. Bring this to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining butter and salt to taste.
STEP THREE: Prepare the Cavatappi noodles according to their directions. Drain the pasta and then toss the pasta back into the pot and pour the tomato sauce over the pasta. Add the Romano cheese and stir to combine.
STEP FOUR: Garnish the dish with fresh basil and more Romano cheese, and serve immediately.
Tips for Success
- A tried and true tip when making a pasta dish is to save some of the water the pasta is boiled in. That salted water is perfect for thinning out pasta sauces that too thickly coat the pasta, so scoop some of the water out before you drain the pasta, just in case you need it!
- When crushing or chopping the canned whole tomatoes, don’t forget to hang on to the tomato juice- you’ll need to add that to the dish for even more flavor.
- The crushed red pepper adds a hint of spice that makes this dish wonderfully zesty without being hot, but you can reduce it to 1/4 teaspoon if need be.
Where did Cavatappi Amatriciana come from?
This dish is a true Italian creation, originating near Rome, and is named after the town Amatrice. Many Italian dishes use olive oil in their recipes, but in Northern Italy, butter is more commonly used, as it is in this dish. Cavatappi Amatriciana is one of Carrabba’s most popular side dishes and, as you can see, is an easy meal to prepare at home. Preparing it at home can easily become a star main dish, served with or without your choice of protein and favorite wine.
Can I store the sauce for later?
The Amatriciana sauce freezes beautifully, so it’s a great sauce to double for future dishes! Prepare the sauce as directed in the recipe, doubling the ingredients. Once you are ready to add the sauce to the pasta, only pour half of the sauce into the pot and leave the other half of the sauce in the pan to cool. Once the sauce has cooled completely, package it into an airtight freezer container or bag and store it for up to two months. To defrost, put the sauce in the refrigerator to thaw and then gently warm it on the stovetop when it’s time to prepare dinner.
More homemade Italian favorites!
- Easy Eggplant Parmesan
- Chicken Parmesan Casserole
- One Pot Alfredo Pasta
- Pasta Carbonara
- Spinach Parmesan Pasta with Chicken
*This post was originally posted on 03/07/2016.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces pancetta diced
- 1 small yellow onion peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes in juice crushed or chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 12 ounces cavatappi pasta
- 1/2 cup Romano cheese freshly grated, plus more for garnish
- Fresh basil chiffonade, for garnish
- Make the sauce by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted add the pancetta and cook until it's lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook for 8 minutes, or until the onions are a deep golden color, stirring occasionally.
- While the onions are cooking, crush or chop the whole tomatoes from the can, do not discard the juices. Add the tomatoes and juice from the can to the skillet. Stir in one cup of water and the red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.
- Once the sauce is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and add in the Romano cheese. Stir until combined.
- Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl or portion it onto plates. Garnish with more romano cheese and some chopped basil. Serve warm.
This recipe is spot on! I worked at Carrabbas for years and this recipe is a perfect copycat, not to mention simple and quick. Next time i will double and freeze what’s left. Great job!!!!