I love pasta. And bacon. And basil. So, when I found myself starving and with tons of basil in my fridge I decided that it was definitely a pasta night and created this! It was delicious and easy and had some cleverly hidden veggies among cream, bacon, and cheese.
Bacon Basil Pasta
To begin this glorious medley of amazingness, gather up some stuff. For this recipe that made 4 reasonable portions or 3 mega portions (way more my style), I used:
- 1/2 box spaghetti (whatever four portions on the box is)
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 massive handful (exactly) fresh basil
- 1 smaller handful (impressed yet?) chopped frozen spinach
- Sliced white mushrooms
- white wine
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup cream
- 2 tablespoons mascarpone
- chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- parmesan cheeese, for serving
Then, turn on two burners and bring a large pot of water (heavily salted, we've discussed this) to a boil and a big skillet (for the sauce) to medium-high heat. You want your sauce skillet/pan to be big enough for all the sauce and the pasta at the end - if you don't have one big enough don't worry about it, you can mix everything in the pasta pot at the end. No one will know and you will be fine and your kids will still be successful at life and your pasta will be delicious.
Anyways. While everything is heating up, git yer bacon ready and cut it into small-ish pieces. Add some olive oil to your sauce pan, then fry-em up!
If your bacon sticks together in the pan at first don't worry about it. As it cooks and renders it'll come apart and be crispy and salty and fabulous. Also, your dogs will sit in front of you on the kitchen floor and look at you as if you are killing them softly via the smell of bacon.
While the mushrooms are browning, LEAVE THEM ALONE. The idea here is that they are nearly frying in the bacon fat. They will get dark and crispy and amazing and if you think mushrooms are spongy and gross you will be wrong because these won't be. Seriously.
Ok, so you're leaving the mushrooms alone. This is an excellent time to mince, chop, grate, or slice two cloves of garlic. I didn't take a picture of this. You're an adult, figure it out. To the brown mushrooms, add your chopped garlic and a normal amount of frozen spinach. If you don't have frozen spinach and are a snob and like fresh spinach use that - no one will know. I used frozen spinach because I had it in my freezer.
Extra added bonus fun tip: You can add 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper here and the pasta will be slightly, but not annoyingly, spicy. Go for it. Idareyou.
Stir everything around a little bit to thaw/cook the spinach and USE SALT HERE. Not too much, because the bacon and bacon fat has lots of salt, but a little sprinkle.
Add some white wine. It's the right thing to do. If you're not a lush like me don't have wine or don't prefer to use it, add a TINY splash of water here - a few tablespoons - just to keep things moving along.
Let the wine cook down a little bit, then find some dairy:
Now that you have your dairy and are very excited, put a little bit of each (a heavy splash of cream and a big dollop of mascarpone) into your sauce.
Ok, come back to life, get a huge bunch of basil (wash it so my mom will be proud), and roughly chop it.
Now, we're very nearly done with the sauce. Timing is ever so slightly important, because once you stir the basil in the sauce you want to serve the pasta so the basil doesn't cook too much and loose all it's flavor. Also, at this point, your sauce will likely have reduced and thickened, which is GREAT, but we want to have a few things on hand to thin the sauce out to the point that it will cover the pasta once you mix it with the sauce and be happy as one big family. This is what I use:
On your left, PASTA WATER. Pay attention, this is important: Once the pasta is ONE MINUTE (or something like that) from being done, ladle a mug of it out and put it on your counter. The water is salty, because you salted it, and is full of starch from the pasta. So, if you add it to your sauce it will thicken and combine and help everything stick together, unlike regular water which will just thin things out and make things taste a little more bland. Not a good thing. On the right, chicken broth in a box. Again, I simply like Publix. Their stock in a box is cheap and has a GREAT flavor and cloudiness which indicates that their is actual CHICKEN involved in the production, not some salty chicken flavor like some broths. But any broth/stock/bouillon will do. If the sauce needs a little more volume, add a little of each of these before adding your final ingredients.
Now that you've finished this lecture, your pasta is probably done: drain it according to package directions. Don't rinse it, you're not a weirdo like that.
So you have your pasta, and it's amazing. Get a friend, or a sister, or a bald boyfriend, and serve that sh*t up with some boxed wine and bread and parmesan cheese. Please also keep in mind that the bacon/spinach/mushroom/basil combo could be switched up 8,398 different ways depending on your preference and what you have in the fridge that day. Also, cream could be replaced with half and half, mascarpone could be called butter in some circles....you can't mess this up.