It’s 19 degrees outside right now with snow covering everything, but inside it’s toasty warm and smells like bacon and herbs. Smelling fresh herbs in the winter makes me happy! Smelling bacon ALWAYS makes me happy! 🙂
Easy weeknight meals also makes me happy but I also don’t want to sacrifice flavor for ease. This recipe delivers on both. Pasta, nutty cauliflower, meaty bacon and crispy bread crumbs are a wonderful combination and the flavors are so well balanced. The lemon juice at the end really helps to brighten it all up. Browning cauliflower in a skillet develops its flavors and cooks off some of the water to keep it from becoming mushy.
Cooking the pasta in a small amount of water skips the draining step and makes a creamy sauce as the pasta cooks. Topping the pasta with bacon-flavored bread crumbs adds texture and another layer of flavor.
- 2 slices bacon cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch florets
- 1 onion chopped fine
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1/2 pound ziti rigati (or any ridged pasta)
- 2 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add panko and 1/4 tsp pepper and stir until browned and well coated, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out skillet.
- Add 2 tsp. oil into empty skillet and heat until shimmering, add the cauliflower and 1/2 tsp salt and cook until browned in spots and crisp-tender, 7-10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover and keep warm.
- Heat 1 tsp of oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Increase heat to high, add pasta, broth, and wine, and bring to simmer. Cook pasta, stirring often, until most of liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat; stir in parsley, lemon juice, and cauliflower. Taste to see if additional salt and pepper is needed and serve, passing the bacon-breadcrumb mixture.
- If the pasta seems dry add 2 tbsp of hot water.
I love pasta dishes! They are so quick to put together and so comforting to eat! This one is reminiscent of a BLT in that it has bacon, spinach and tomato and also a few garlic toasted bread crumbs on top to mimic the bread. I think this tastes a lot better though!
Caramelized tomatoes give the sauce deep flavor, and the leeks add sweetness. The garlic crumbs on top are optional, but they add fabulous texture to the dish. If you’re not familiar with leeks be sure to slice only the white parts and throw away the green as it is too tough to eat, also be sure to swish the sliced leeks around in a large bowl full of cold water to clean them, they can sometimes be gritty. Lift the leeks out of the water with a slotted spoon. If you pour the leeks into a strainer you’re just dumping the grit back on them. I just love leeks! They are more mellow than green onions and give such a lovely flavor to the sauce. Serve this with Orange and Red Onion Salad and some of the Italian bread you used to make crumbs. I hope you love it as much as we do!
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup italian bread cubes
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- salt to taste
- 2 strips bacon diced
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1/3 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 4 oz. dry bucatini or spaghetti
- 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, packed
- 1/4 tsp. minced fresh thyme
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
- Mince garlic for the bread crumbs in a food processor. Add cubed bread and process until coarse.
- 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.
- Cook bacon for the pasta in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp. drippings.
- Caramelize tomatoes and sugar in drippings over medium heat. Cook until tomatoes begin to brown; about 5 minutes. Add leeks and saute until wilted, 3-4 minutes.
- Deglaze skillet with wine; simmer until liquid is nearly evaporated. Add broth, vinegar, and pepper flakes. Simmer until liquid is reduced by a third or about 5 minutes.
- Cook spaghetti in boiling water according the package directions.
- Add spinach, thyme, and cooked bacon to the tomato mixture. Transfer cooked pasta from cooking water to the skillet using tongs.
- Toss to coat; season with salt if desired. Divide pasta among plates and sprinkle with bread crumbs.