Neapolitan Ziti Pasta with Italian Lardo (ziti lardiati)

Neapolitan Ziti Pasta with Italian Lardo.  (ziti lardiati)

This Neapolitan recipe for ziti pasta with Italian lardo is another recipe that originated in what the Italians call  ‘la cucina povera’ (the kitchen of the poor) Today, these dishes not only continue to be an important part of traditional regional cooking but are sought after and served in even the best restaurants! The main ingredient of this recipe, lardo, has become a much appreciated gourmet delicacy.

ziti pasta with Italian lardo

What is Italian lardo?

In the past, rural traditions and necessity made it important for the peasant and farming populations not to waste anything. Families who had pigs would slaughter them in the late summer/early autumn and preserve every part of the animal to see the family through the cold winter months. In fact, there is a well-known Italian expression ‘del maiale non si butta via niente’ – one throws nothing away from the pig!

ingredients for ziti with Italian lardo on white plate

Throwing nothing away also meant making use of the pig fat or lard. There are two kinds of Italian lard; lardo and strutto. The latter is rendered pig fat which was, and still is, used for cooking (instead of oil) and making pastry (instead of butter). Lardo, on the other hand, is pig back fat which has been cured in various ways. Italians eat it on bread or add it to recipes such as this one for ziti pasta with Italian lardo, known in Campania as ‘ziti lardiati’.

prepared parsley, onions, tomatoes and lardo each in separate white bowl

In the old days, farming families made their own lardo by preserving the back fat in salt. This lardo was very useful because it is very calorific and, therefore, helped the farmers get the calories they needed for all the physical work they did in the fields. By storing the lardo in salt, people could use it at all times of the year. But, it was especially popular in the winter.

dried ziti pasta on white plate

Obviously this tradition is less common now. However, there are types of lardo which continue to be produced and are much loved here and even considered a delicacy.

lardo di colonnata
lardo di colonnata

The best lardo for ziti lardiati.

The two most famous types of lardo are Lardo di Colonnata and Lardo di Arnad. The first type has been made almost the same way since Roman times. It comes from the small village of Colonnata near the Carrara marble quarries in Tuscany. It was originally said to have been food for the quarry men.

Amazingly, the pork back fat is preserved in Carrara marble basins called ‘conche’. Carrara is the marble Michelangelo used to make his statue of  ‘David’! It has also been used in many other famous works of art and buildings all over the world since Roman times.

Onions, garlic and lardo in skillet

To make lardo di Colonnata, the producers put a trimmed piece of pork back fat into the bottom of a marble basin after the basin has been rubbed with garlic. The meat isn’t refrigerated before curing. They then add salt, black pepper, rosemary, and garlic. Some also add sage, star anise, oregano, coriander, or even cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg. The basins are filled with layers of the lard and then the salt, herbs and spices. Then they are closed with a slab of marble.

tomatoes, parsley, onions, garlic and lardo in skillet

Aging occurs naturally in caves.  It takes a minimum of 6 months. During this time they regularly measure the amount of liquid released by the salt-covered lard. Once it’s ready, the lardo is very white, soft, fragrant, and extraordinarily sweet despite the large amount of salt used. The production of Lardo di Colonnata is regulated by IGP standards, which include aging the meat in marble. I used this lardo for my ziti lardiati.

sauce in skillet for ziti pasta with Italian lardo (ziti lardiati)

Lardo di Arnad.

Lardo di Arnad comes from the village of Arnad in the Aosta valley and is made in a different way. This lardo is aged in wooden tanks called ‘doils’ for a period of at least three months. It is flavored with a mixture of aromas composed of juniper, bay leaves, nutmeg, sage and rosemary. The back fat has to come from a pig with a minimum weight of 160 kg and aged no less than 9 months. In addition, the animal has to be bred in Val D’Aosta or in four other regions: Emilia Romagna, Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto. Since 1996, lardo di Arnad is the only lard in Europe that can boast the DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) certification.

sauce with cheese in skillet for ziti pasta with Italian lardo (ziti lardiati)

The other ingredients for pasta with Italian lardo.

The original Neapolitan name for this pasta with Italian lardo recipe is ‘maccaruncielli lardiati’. Nowadays, most Italians call it ziti lardiati. Traditionally, it is made with ziti or zitoni (large ziti) or Neapolitan maccheroni. Like many other traditional dishes, there are some variations. Some people use only garlic or only onion, others use both.

In addition, there are ‘white’ versions meaning without tomatoes. However, apart from the lardo itself, tomatoes (whether fresh or as passata) are used in most recipes for this dish. My only deviation from the most common recipes was to use parsley. I didn’t have any fresh basil, but basil is usually the preferred herb.

ziti pasta with Italian lardo (ziti lardiati)

This is a pretty simple recipe with only a few ingredients, but it’s unbelievably tasty. If you can’t find lardo, you can use pancetta or, even better, guanciale (pigs cheek). Of course, it won’t be quite the same. The lardo literally melts and adds a different flavour to what you would get with pancetta or guanciale.

ziti lardiati

I have read that lardo is available to buy online or at Italian specialty shops in both UK and USA. So, if you’d like to try it, do get some. Although it’s made from fat, it isn’t greasy and has less saturated fat than butter! You can use it in this pasta with Italian lardo recipe as well as cut it thinly and eat it on warm bread! Yum!

If you make this ziti lardiati recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. So, please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Buon appetito!

(This recipe was first published in 2018 but has been updated)

Other ziti recipes on The Pasta Project.

  1. Baked ziti with spicy sausage
  2. Neapolitan baked ziti al gratin
  3. Ziti pasta with La Genovese ragu
  4. Parmigiana timballo with ziti

Save this recipe for later?

If you want to save this recipe for later, you can print it, bookmark this page or save it to Pinterest.

Pin for later.

Ziti pasta with Italian lardo

5 from 34 votes
ziti pasta with Italian lardo
Ziti pasta with Italian lardo (ziti lardiati)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins

This simple but delicious traditional pasta with Italian lardo recipe from Naples is bound to impress you and make you fall in love with lardo!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Campania, Italian, Mediterranean, Southern Italian
Keyword: authentic Italian pasta recipe, Italian recipe, lardo, Neapolitan recipe, pig back fat, ziti
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 320 g Ziti or Zitoni pasta (11-12oz) If using zitoni or long ziti you will need to break the pasta pieces in half
  • 130 g lardo (4.5oz) preferably Lardo di Colonnata or Lardo di Arnad
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 1 handful fresh basil or parsley
  • 400 g fresh cherry tomatoes (14oz) I used datterini
  • 3-4 tbsp tomato passata
  • 1 tbsp tomato concentrate
  • 1/2 glass white wine
  • 50 g pecorino cheese (2oz)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  1. Peel the garlic clove and onion. Cut the onion and lardo into very small pieces. 

  2. Do the same with the tomatoes after washing them.

  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan or skillet. Brown the garlic in the pan (be careful not to burn it) and then add the onion and lardo.

  4. Cook slowly for 10 minutes so the lardo melts.

  5. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When it starts to boil, add salt and bring to the boil again.

  6. Add the white wine to the onions and lardo, turn up the heat and let the alcohol evaporate.

  7. At this point add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt, then stir. add the basil or parsley. Once the tomatoes start to soften add the passata and tomato concentrate. Stir again.

  8. Cook for 10 minutes then remove the garlic.

  9. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. When it's ready save a cup of the cooking water and drain.

  10. Add the grated cheese to the sauce and mix together and stir until the cheese melts. If the sauce seems dry add some of the pasta cooking water.

  11. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and mix everything together so the pasta gets coated in the sauce.

  12. Serve immediately sprinkled with a little more chopped basil or parsley, and some grated pecorino if required.

Recipe Notes

Some people add peperoncino to this dish, but I didn't.

If you don't have ziti or zitoni you can also use other pasta tubes such as candele, penne or rigatoni. Long pasta tubes will need to be broken into pieces as is traditional in Naples.

This recipe can also be made with guanciale or pancetta.

Want to know more about my life in Italy? Go to the homepage and subscribe to my newsletter. New subscribers get a free recipe e-book too!

You May Also Like


  • Avatar
    Nicole Hood
    March 10, 2020 9:36 am

    Italian comfort food at it’s best! I love all your details too!

  • Avatar
    March 9, 2020 10:37 pm

    Oh my, you brought some priceless childhood memories with the lardo. I love it and used to eat it as a kid but haven’t had it for quite some time, don’t know where to get it here. I will definitely look for it and make this beautiful pasta dish. All this colours and flavours!!!! Drooling

  • Avatar
    March 9, 2020 9:29 pm

    It’s really awesome to know the traditions behind the food and this lardo looks so flavorful.

  • Avatar
    Jacque Hastert
    March 9, 2020 7:27 pm

    This pasta dish sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to make it and have added it to my menu for next week.

  • Avatar
    March 9, 2020 4:04 pm

    This dish looks absolutely delicious! I’m going to add this to our meal plan this week, I can’t wait to try it.

  • Avatar
    March 9, 2020 3:13 pm

    Wow I never knew what lardo was until I read this post. I love learning about foods from different cultures. I’m also obsessed with pasta, so I’m going to check out some of your other recipes!

  • Avatar
    March 9, 2020 2:16 pm

    I have never tasted Lardo pasta, but have heard a lot about it. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Avatar
    March 9, 2020 7:09 am

    Such rich history in this post. I love everything Italian! And now if only I can get my hands on some Lardo!

  • Avatar
    March 9, 2020 2:45 am

    I was in New York this weekend and found some lardo. Making your recipes was different, but was worth it. It really is a great dish.

  • Avatar
    March 6, 2020 11:10 pm

    I’ll have to swing by my speciality butcher to see if they have lardo because it sounds like it gives this ziti such incredible flavor, and I love my ziti. Talk about serious comfort food.

  • Avatar
    Paula Montenegro
    March 6, 2020 3:28 pm

    Super simple and delicious, it reminds me of the dishes with lard my family made when I was growing up. It looks fantastic! And I had never heard of long ziti. A must-try!

  • Avatar
    March 6, 2020 1:09 pm

    This looks like a very comforting and satisfying dish! I was born and raised in Poland, and our tradition was very similar, late autumn meant killing the pig, making sure that nothing goes to waste! Lard is still very popular in cooking, I think it adds very special flavour!

  • Avatar
    Amy Liu Dong
    March 6, 2020 11:30 am

    Very interesting story for this pasta and my goodness this ziti pasta look so delicious my husband will definitely love it.

  • Avatar
    March 6, 2020 11:00 am

    Oooh love me a good pasta. Thanks for sharing.

  • Avatar
    March 6, 2020 6:48 am

    YUM! I love ziti but I’ve never tried zitoni. Tomato sauce made out of cherry tomatoes is one of my favorites 😀

  • Avatar
    March 6, 2020 4:07 am

    i always wanted to make a try of italian recipes but never got perfect guidance. Your stepwise captures gives clear idea of how to make the perfect dish.

  • Avatar
    GUNJAN C Dudani
    March 5, 2020 10:34 pm

    I love ziti pasta. I like all the ingredients here as well. Can’t wait to make it tomorrow for dinner.

  • Avatar
    Analida Braeger
    March 5, 2020 4:54 pm

    My son and I have taken an interest in making our own charcuterie at home and lardo is one of the items on our list. Thanks so much for the history on this tasty item!

  • Avatar
    March 5, 2020 3:57 pm

    I am such a lover of pasta dishes I just had to try this. And was it ever delicious! I had to use pancetta because I couldn’t find the lardo but I’m still looking because I would love to try it as originally intended. I also got to use my fresh basil and am looking forward to trying it again when my tomatoes come in.

  • Avatar
    Nart | Cooking with Nart
    March 5, 2020 5:09 am

    This dish looks delicious. And wow cured pig back fat on bread – again, that’s new to me!

  • Avatar
    March 5, 2020 3:00 am

    I love pasta dish and this looks so amazing. Wonderful presentation

  • Avatar
    Lesli Schwartz
    March 4, 2020 9:51 pm

    I bet the lardo really highlights this ziti dish! Looks incredibly tasty!

  • Avatar
    Sondra Barker
    March 4, 2020 9:10 pm

    This recipe looks so good! What a unique take on a regular pasta dish – love this!

  • Avatar
    March 4, 2020 9:06 pm

    Looks so yummy! I also use lard in some of my Russian recipes. will definitely try this one with ziti. And add basil for even more flavor. Thanks for the idea!

  • Avatar
    March 4, 2020 8:34 pm

    Love the history and culture that you share in your posts. Are there any good gluten-free pastas that you can suggest? I was wondering if Italy has better ones than the USA. This looks amazing. Most comfort foods are those of the poor.

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    March 4, 2020 6:42 pm

    This is proof that ‘the kitchen of the poor’ doesn’t have to be a bad thing! It looks absolutely DELICIOUS.

  • Avatar
    Christian Guzman
    March 4, 2020 4:42 pm

    That looks incredible! I really loved the story of how the lardo is made. What an incredible thing. So many things are manufactured and it’s fun to read that traditions are respected like that. I wish we had something like that here in the US.

  • Avatar
    March 4, 2020 2:20 am

    Well, I will certainly be on the lookout for lardo – or even ask when our farmers’ market opens again in the spring if anyone can provide something similar. My mother-in-law always said lard made the best pie crusts, though I don’t see it mentioned much these days.

  • Avatar
    Bernice Hill
    March 4, 2020 12:48 am

    I had no idea that’s how lardo was made. I love posts like this that have both a delicious recipe and some food education!

  • Avatar
    March 3, 2020 9:54 pm

    I love how similar Spanish and Italian cultures are! We also have dishes that make use of all parts of the pig. This pasta looks amazing.

  • Avatar
    Maria Helen
    August 6, 2018 3:52 am

    It sounds amazing! I have to try to make it this week!

  • Avatar
    Brian Jones
    April 22, 2018 6:50 am

    Oh my that sounds heavenly, lardo has begun to become popular in high-end British restaurants too I understand but it has always been popular here in Hungary. I can get it from any butchers and supermarket and it shares the same name as bacon and it is glorious. Must make this recipe!

    • admin
      April 27, 2018 5:58 am

      Thanks Brian, I hadn’t eaten lardo until coming to Italy, but now I totally love it. It’s great with bread but cooking with it adds a wonderful flavour to your food! I’m sure you’ll love this dish if you make it! All the best Jacqui

  • Avatar
    April 22, 2018 2:19 am

    I love pasta. The picture looks so delicious and mouthwatering. will definitely try this recipe.

    • admin
      April 27, 2018 6:00 am

      Thanks Arjhon! I’m sure you’ll love this dish if you make it! The use of lardo really gives the sauce a wonderful flavour! All the best from Verona Jacqui

  • Avatar
    Aleka Shunk
    April 21, 2018 7:53 pm

    Very interesting and tasty!!! I am sure the lardo gives this dish a unique and rich flavor! I would esp. like to try pastry dough made with pig fat!

    • admin
      April 27, 2018 6:01 am

      Grazie Aleka! Yes the lardo really adds a delicious flavour to this sauce! I’ve never made pastry with lard but I can imagine it tastes good! Greetings from Verona. Jacqui

Leave a Reply