Pasta alla Zozzona Recipe (Roman Sausage Rigatoni)

5 from 3 reviews

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Pasta Alla Zozzona- this Roman Sausage Rigatoni unites the cornerstones of Roman pasta dishes: creamy carbonara, flavorful amatriciana, pasta alla gricia recipe, and authentic cacio e pepe, all in one authentic Italian recipe. Known by Romans as “dirty” pasta, I promise you can’t get enough of the rich flavor profile! Buon appetito!

Serve with homemade bread.

pasta alla zozzona in a small bowl the creamy sauce. Cheese on top. Fork in the bowl ready to eat.
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Why you’ll love this

These ingredients combine to create a delicious and hearty pasta dish, showcasing Roman cuisine’s rich and robust flavors. With crisp guanciale, juicy sausage, onion, and tomato simmered in rendered pancetta fat, this dish spells delcious!

  • Rich and Creamy Texture: the combination of egg yolks and Pecorino Romano cheese creates a luscious and creamy sauce that coats the pasta beautifully.
  • Savory and Flavorful: Including guanciale, pancetta, and sweet or hot Italian sausage adds layers of savory and spiced flavors. The savory tomato flavor of amatriciana is achieved with the cooked meat and hearty tomato sauce.
  • Simple Yet Impressive: While the recipe involves a few steps, it remains relatively simple and approachable, making it perfect for both weeknight dinners and special occasions.

You’ll love his authentic Italian recipe! Search all pasta recipes for more.

bowl of pasta alla zozzona recipe with the big serving Italian-style bowl of pasta in the background.

Simple Ingredients

Classic Roman pasta alla zozzona recipe requires simple and humble ingredients to create a rich and satisfying pasta dish.

ingredient shot for pasta alla zozzona recipe
  • Egg Yolks: Add richness and creaminess to the pasta sauce.
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese: A flavorful and salty Italian cheese that enhances the taste of the dish.
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper: Used for seasoning, enhancing the overall flavor of the pasta.
  • Guanciale or Pancetta: Cured pork jowl or bacon, providing a savory and slightly fatty element to the dish.
  • Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage: Adds a flavorful and spiced meat component to the pasta.
  • Onion: Adds sweetness and depth of flavor to the sauce.
  • Tomato Passata: A smooth tomato puree that forms the base of the pasta sauce.
  • Rigatoni: Large, ridged pasta tubes that hold the sauce well, creating a satisfying texture in each bite. Use quality pasta!

See the recipe card for quantities.

Instructions

From working-class culinary tradition to one of Rome’s famous pasta dishes, this recipe has it all! Here’s a breakdown of how to make it step-by-step. See the full recipe card below for a printable version.

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- mixing the eggs and the cheese in a bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and pecorino cheese until well combined.

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- mixed egg and cheese in the bowl.

Season with salt and black pepper. It will be like a thick paste. Set aside.

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- fried pancetta in pan.

In a large skillet or large pan over medium heat, cook the guanciale or pancetta until it becomes crispy and golden brown. You can add a drizzle of oil to prevent initial sticking if you desire. Remove it from the skillet and set it aside, leaving the rendered fat in the pan.

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- adding onion to the pan with oil.

In the same skillet, add the finely chopped onion to the skillet and sauté until it becomes translucent.

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- adding sausage to the pan.

Add the Italian sausage, breaking it into medium-sized chunk pieces with the back of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- crumble sausage with the back of a wooden spoon.

Cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through.

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- cook sausage in the pan.

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- add the San marzano tomatoes to the pan.

Pour in the tomato passata and bring the mixture to a simmer. Allow it to cook for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken.
While the sauce is simmering, cook the rigatoni in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of pasta water.

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- add cooked pasta to the pan with sauce.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the sauce, tossing to coat the pasta evenly.

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- add the egg and cheese mixture to the pan with cooked pasta and sauce.

Remove the skillet from heat, and quickly pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Toss the pasta continuously to ensure the sauce coats the pasta evenly. If needed, add a bit of the reserved pasta water to achieve a creamy consistency. Toss and stir until the sauce is creamy, glossy, and clings to the pasta. 

how to make pasta alla zozzona recipe instructions- add pancetta back to the pasta disha nd mox.

Crumble the crispy guanciale or pancetta over the pasta and toss once more.
Serve the Pasta alla Zozzona hot, with additional Pecorino Romano cheese on the side for sprinkling.

Enjoy your delicious rigatoni alla zozzona! 

Substitutions

  • Guanciale or Pancetta: If you can’t find guanciale, pancetta is a great alternative. Additionally, bacon can be used in a pinch, although the flavor profile may differ slightly.
  • Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage: You can choose sweet or hot Italian sausage depending on your spice preference. Alternatively, you can use ground pork or turkey seasoned with Italian spices.
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese: Parmesan cheese can be used as a substitute if Pecorino Romano is unavailable. While the flavor may vary slightly, Parmesan will still contribute a rich and savory element.
  • Rigatoni Pasta: Rigatoni’s large and ridged shape can be substituted with other large pasta shapes like penne or mezzi rigatoni. The key is to use a pasta that can hold the sauce well.
  • Tomato Passata: You can use canned crushed tomatoes or tomato puree if you don’t have tomato passata. Adjust the quantity to achieve your desired sauce consistency.
  • Spice Level: Adjust the spice level by choosing mild or hot sausage or by adding crushed red pepper flakes or Calabrian chili paste to the sauce for an extra kick.
pasta alla zozzona in a white enamel baking dish.

Equipment

Storage

Allow any leftovers to cool to room temperature before transferring them to an airtight container. Refrigerate the container within two hours of cooking to maintain freshness. It is best if consumed within 3 days of making.

Top tips for best results

  • Quality Ingredients: Use high-quality ingredients, especially Pecorino Romano cheese, which contributes significantly to the dish’s flavor.
  • Room Temperature Eggs: Allow the egg yolks to come to room temperature before whisking with the cheese. This ensures a smooth and well-emulsified sauce.
  • Render Guanciale or Pancetta Well: Cook the guanciale or pancetta until it becomes crispy and releases its flavorful fat. This adds richness to the sauce.
  • Balancing Flavors: Taste the sauce as it simmers and adjust the seasoning. If needed, add salt, pepper, or a pinch of sugar.
  • Al Dente Pasta: Cook the rigatoni until al dente to maintain a satisfying texture. Overcooked pasta can become mushy when combined with the sauce.
  • Reserve Pasta Water: Save a cup of the pasta water before draining. This starchy hot water can be used to adjust the sauce consistency and help it adhere to the pasta.
  • Quick Sauce Coating: Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta quickly and toss continuously. The residual heat from the pasta will cook the eggs, creating a creamy sauce.
  • Freshly Grated Cheese: Grate the Pecorino Romano cheese just before using it for the best flavor and texture.

FAQs

What does Zozzona mean in Italian

“Zozzona” is an Italian term that can be translated to mean “dirty” or “sloppy” in English. In the context of the dish “Pasta alla Zozzona,” the name suggests a rustic and hearty preparation, capturing the essence of a comforting, flavorful, and somewhat messy pasta dish. The term reflects the unpretentious and down-to-earth nature of the cuisine, emphasizing the deliciousness that arises from a combination of simple, wholesome ingredients.

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bowl of pasta alla zozzona recipe with the big serving Italian-style bowl of pasta in the background.

Pasta Alla Zozzona Recipe (Sausage Rigatoni)

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5 from 3 reviews

Pasta Alla Zozzona- this Roman Sausage Rigatoni unites the cornerstones of Roman pasta dishes: creamy carbonara, flavorful amatriciana, pasta alla gricia recipe, and authentic cacio e pepe, all in one authentic Italian recipe. Known by Romans as “dirty” pasta, I promise you can’t get enough of the rich flavor profile! Buon appetito!

  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 large egg yolks, room temprature
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces guanciale (cured pork jowl) or pancetta, or bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-thick batons
  • 6 ounces sweet or hot Italian sausage (2 links), removed from casing
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups tomato passata
  • 1 lb rigatoni pasta (or short pasta of choice)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and pecorino cheese until well combined. Season with salt and black pepper. It will be like a thick paste. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet or large pan over medium heat, cook the guanciale or pancetta until it becomes crispy and golden brown. You can add a drizzle of oil to prevent initial sticking if you desire. Remove it from the skillet and set it aside, leaving the rendered fat in the pan.
  3. In the same skillet, add the finely chopped onion to the skillet and sauté until it becomes translucent.
  4. Add the Italian sausage, breaking it into medium-sized chunk pieces with the back of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through.
  5. Pour in the tomato passata and bring the mixture to a simmer. Allow it to cook for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken.
  6. While the sauce is simmering, cook the rigatoni in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of pasta water.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the sauce, tossing to coat the pasta evenly.
  8. Remove the skillet from heat, and quickly pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Toss the pasta continuously to ensure the sauce coats the pasta evenly. If needed, add a bit of the reserved pasta water to achieve a creamy consistency. Toss and stir until the sauce is creamy, glossy, and clings to the pasta. 
  9. Crumble the crispy guanciale or pancetta over the pasta and toss once more.
  10. Serve the Pasta alla Zozzona hot, with additional Pecorino Romano cheese on the side for sprinkling.

Enjoy your delicious rigatoni alla zozzona! 

Notes

Tips

    • Quality Ingredients: Use high-quality ingredients, especially Pecorino Romano cheese, which contributes significantly to the dish’s flavor.

    • Room Temperature Eggs: Allow the egg yolks to come to room temperature before whisking with the cheese. This ensures a smooth and well-emulsified sauce.

    • Render Guanciale or Pancetta Well: Cook the guanciale or pancetta until it becomes crispy and releases its flavorful fat. This adds richness to the sauce.

    • Balancing Flavors: Taste the sauce as it simmers and adjust the seasoning. If needed, add salt, pepper, or a pinch of sugar.

    • Al Dente Pasta: Cook the rigatoni until al dente to maintain a satisfying texture. Overcooked pasta can become mushy when combined with the sauce.

    • Reserve Pasta Water: Save a cup of pasta cooking water before draining. This starchy water can be used to adjust the sauce consistency and help it adhere to the pasta.

    • Quick Sauce Coating: Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta quickly and toss continuously. The residual heat from the pasta will cook the eggs, creating a creamy sauce.

    • Freshly Grated Cheese: Grate the Pecorino Romano cheese just before using it for the best flavor and texture.

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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5 Comments

  1. Made this dish for me and my pops this past Sunday. It was gone in minutes! 5 outta 5 stars and would recommend this fun recipe for anyone looking to elevate their Sunday dinner. Carbonara, salciccia, pancetta – three ingredients for a pasta party!






  2. My husband and I loved this recipe. Never had pasta alla zozzona before but I made it last night and definitely already craving it again! The recipe itself was easy to follow, prep was simple, and the taste was out of this world!! It turned out smooth and rich, with the perfect flavor. I didn’t make any alterations except I used ground sausage because I had some on hand instead of buying sausage links. 10/10 !!






    1. Thrilled you and your husband loved it. It’s a fun one to make with delicious and deep flavors. Hope you enjoy time and time again.