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Simple Cooking: Spicy Bacon Pasta

By Anthony Todd in Food on Feb 21, 2008 8:30PM

Bacon%20Pasta%20Ingredients.jpgHere at Chicagoist, we like to keep it simple. On a freezing cold night like the ones we’ve been having lately, that means making tasty meals out of what you have in your refrigerator and your pantry. We don’t know about all of our readers, but if our pantry is any example, we don’t have quail eggs, fresh tarragon and homemade pasta sitting around after a week of avoiding grocery shopping. We usually do have onions, garlic and canned tomatoes. This pasta dish will impress any dinner guest. More importantly it’s quick, delicious and all the ingredients are things that any home cook has on hand. It takes about 20 minutes, but no one else needs to know that.

Anthony’s Spicy Bacon Pasta

4 strips of bacon, sliced into ¼ inch wide strips
1/2 of an onion, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon of Rosemary (optional)
1 tablespoon of Sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper (or more, if you like it that way)
1 16-ounce can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes, chopped
1 8-ounce can of Tomato Sauce
1 box of Pasta (Farfalle or Rotini would be best)

Bring a pot of water to boil. Sauté the bacon over medium-high heat in a heavy pan for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Add the rosemary, sugar and red pepper and sauté for 30 seconds before adding the tomatoes (with juices) and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to medium-low heat.

At this point, start cooking your pasta. Stir the sauce occasionally, and when the pasta is done, the sauce should have reduced into a thick, red-brown savory ooze of tastiness. Drain the pasta, combine with the sauce and serve!

Quick tip for pantry chefs – Remember that bacon freezes beautifully, and it’s easier to chop when it’s quite cold. We always keep an extra pound of good bacon in our freezer.

Feel free to play around – this is a fairly foolproof recipe. Be lazy and only use tomato sauce (like we did last night) instead of chopping up the whole tomatoes. If you like cilantro, try using it instead of the rosemary. Sprinkle some basil or other fresh herbs on at the end. But, if you want to stick to only what’s in your pantry, just use the recipe as is. The combination of the salty bacon, the slight sweetness of the onions and the spice of the rosemary make for a perfect comfort meal for a windy Chicago night.