There are recipes we get from books and there are recipes we get from life. These are recipes that are cobbled together over time, perhaps never really settling into what one might call a fixed “recipe”. These are recipes that reflect what we love most, or what’s almost always available in our pantry, or what is easy and good…or any combination thereof.
This is the kind of pasta dish that is often made in our home. It evolved over the span of our marriage (still a young one at that), not consciously moving towards an actually recipe, more often just coming together when we were busy, or hadn’t been to the grocery in a while, or hadn’t really thought about what to have for dinner. It is made with ingredients that we (almost) always have on stock and can be prepared with minimal effort and fuss.
That is not to say that this is some sort of second string meal without thought or care. When we sit down to a bowl of this pasta it is still with much eagerness, and its consumption is met with many mmm’s of pleasure and contentment.
Smoky-Spicy Bacon Pasta
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (leaves only…but don’t toss the stems!)
- Chopped parsley stems (from your chopped parsley leaves above)
- 130 grams chopped bacon
- 1/4 teaspoon pimenton de la vera (or to taste…depends how smoky you like it)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste…depends on how spicy you like it)
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 400-gram can crushed or chopped tomatoes
- 1/3 cup green olives, pitted
- A pinch of sugar (optional)
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 300 grams macaroni or penne, or any pasta you prefer
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic, onion, and parsley stems and sauté until the onion is soft.
- Add the bacon to the pan, toss and cook until bacon begins to curl and get golden around the edges but is still soft.
- Add pimenton, cayenne, and Italian seasoning. Toss to coat the bacon and cook a bit just until the aroma of the herbs and spices wafts up and makes your mouth water.
- Add tomatoes and simmer slowly until the tomatoes start getting thick and pulpy, and melting into a sauce and the oil starts to separate. You can help out by crushing the tomato chunks with the back of your spoon.
- Prepare your pasta as per package directions while the sauce is simmering.
- Taste your sauce and season with salt and pepper as you see fit. Add just a bit of sugar to bring out the tomatoes sweetness (I do not have the privilege of vine-ripened toms). Taste again and add dashes of cayenne or pimenton if you’d like to up the heat and /or smokiness.
- Serves two.
As this is quite an easygoing dish, you can adapt and alter as you see fit. We often do depending on what we have on hand or what our fancy happens to be at that particular time. Tomatoes for C, bacon for me. The smoky heat we both enjoy. Leave out the olives if you don’t have them (we usually have a bottle as C insists we always have one on stock for “pasta”). Use more fresh herbs if you’ve got them. Adjust the pimenton and cayenne to your liking. Add some wine that was leftover from the night before. Make it your own.
Although I love pouring through my cookbooks, ticking recipes to try, shopping for the ingredients and pulling them together, and then eventually (or not) posting them here, it is dishes like this pasta that make up the building blocks of our table and our life.