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.