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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

BLT Pasta!

For Christmas this past year, some dear friends of ours gave us a gift certificate to Al's Quality Market in Barberton, Ohio. And what a gift it is! Nick and I went there and loaded up. We got Italian sausage, Hungarian sausage, bratwurst, Slovene, Slovak, and peppered bacon. Then I saw it... Hungarian Paprika bacon.

It looked so good even though I had no idea what I was going to make with it. Then I heard this little voice in my head say, "If you buy it, the recipe will come." Never one to ignore the little voices in my head, I bought it! My friend Madonna suggested using it in my Chicken Paprikash for an added level of flavor. A very good idea. But then, if you can believe it, two days later I got a free promo issue of the magazine Cuisine at Home. I get these sometimes. A random food magazine that the publisher wants you to subscribe to so they send you a freebie. Paging through the magazine, I came across BLT Pasta. That little voice in my head did not lie!

After making sure I had all, or at least most, of the ingredients, I got to work. I decided to spread the bacon out on a rack and bake it in the oven. There is significantly less stove top mess this way and the bacon remains straight, not all curled up. Not that it matters, but it does look prettier.

I baked it a 350 for about 20 minutes then checked back every 5 minutes to see if it had the desired crispness I wanted. Now check out this picture (click photo to enlarge), this is the bacon after it was done. This is what I call food porn.

I tasted it and had a foodgasm! Oh my, it's incredible. I could have just sat down and ate the whole tray with nothing else. But I was on a mission. I had to make this pasta dish. So first you put a little olive oil in a skillet and some finally minced garlic. Then add about a cup of bread crumbs, and brown lightly. This will be the topping to the pasta. When that's done, set it aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water and add your pasta. This recipe calls for long pasta, so I used my favorite kind, linguine.

In a skillet with a little olive oil (about 2 Tablespoons), saute a cup of grape tomatoes, halved. The recipe calls for caramelizing the tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, but I really hate sugar in any tomato dish so I skipped that step. Actually the recipe wants you to cook your bacon in this skillet then saute your tomatoes in the bacon drippings. That probably would have been pretty darn tasty but my way did save a bit of the added fat calories. So cook the tomatoes until they just start to brown then add a chopped (and cleaned) leek. Saute them together for a few minutes then add 1/4 cup of white wine to deglaze the pan. Let the wine almost completely cook down, then add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and cook for about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of spinach, some thyme and your chopped cooked bacon.

Add your cooked pasta and toss to combine. To serve, put a generous serving of pasta in a pasta bowl and top with the reserved bread crumb mixture. And enjoy!

BLT Pasta
c/o Cuisine at Home
  • 2 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced - ( I used 8 slices!)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 oz dry bucatini or spaghetti
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/4 tsp minced fresh thyme (or a pinch of dry thyme)
  • For garlic bread crumbs:
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup French bread, cubed (about one 1/2 inch thick slice)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt to taste

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. Mince the garlic for the bread crumbs in a food processor, add the cubed bread, and process until coarse.
  3. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium: add crumbs and toast until golden, 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and set aside.
  4. Saute the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Cook until crisp, then drain on paper-towel. Pour off all but 1 T. drippings.
  6. Caramelize the tomatoes and sugar in the drippings over medium heat.
  7. Cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the leeks, saute until wilted, 3-4 minutes.
  9. Deglaze with wine; simmer until liquid is nearly evaporated.
  10. Add the broth, vinegar, and pepper flakes and simmer until reduced by 1/3, about 5 minutes.
  11. Cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions.
  12. Add the spinach, thyme, and bacon pieces to the sauce.
  13. Transfer the cooked pasta from the pot to the pan using tongs.
  14. Toss to coat.
  15. Season with salt, then transfer to large serving platter or individual plates.
  16. Sprinkle with garlic bread crumbs before serving.

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