This is my version of pasta al fresco. This recipe was created on a weeknight when I was hungry, didn’t want to eat out, and looked in the refrigerator for inspiration. I grabbed fresh produce, bacon, pasta, and created what was at the time a hypothetically delicious meal. This is the typical way that I create new dishes, I just grab ingredients that should work together and give it a try. I enjoyed the finished product so much that it has become one of my favorite dishes to make. Not only is it easy and quick to prepare but it’s loaded with vegetables and looks pretty. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
Serving size: 8
Active time: 45 minutes
16 oz whole wheat spaghetti
2 C. pasta water
8 slices of bacon, diced
1 pt cherry tomatoes, sliced
16 cloves of garlic, minced
1-1/2 white onion, chopped (I used the whole onion but you can just use 1/2 of it)
2 zucchini, halved and sliced
4 C fresh broccoli florets (2 crowns of broccoli stalks)
Season to taste
1. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Salt and olive oil can be added to the water. Carefully reserve 2 C. of pasta water before you drain the pasta and sit it to the side. Don’t wash the pot just sit it to the side.
2. Dice bacon, slice zucchini, cut broccoli into florets if necessary, chop onion, mince garlic, and slice tomatoes. Place zucchini, broccoli, onion, and garlic together in a bowl and sit it to the side. The tomatoes can go into a separate bowl.
3.Add diced bacon to a pan on medium-high heat. Continue to cook bacon until it’s golden brown. When the bacon is done, drain from the pan using a slotted spoon, place the cooked bacon into a small bowl, and sit to the side.
4. Using the bacon dripping, saute the zucchini, broccoli, onion, and garlic together for 15 minutes or until the vegetables become slightly tender. Season the vegetables to taste being mindful of the salt that will come from the bacon. I used 1 T. granulated garlic, 1 T. white pepper, 1 t. cayenne pepper, and 1 T. seasoning salt.
5. Return the pasta pot to the stove and place on medium heat, add the sauteed vegetables, cooked pasta, and 2 C. of reserved pasta water. Use tongs to toss the ingredients together. Check the flavors to see if any additional seasoning needs to be added. Allow the pasta to simmer for 3 minutes.
6. Pour all of the pasta and vegetables into a large bowl including the liquid, add the tomatoes, and bacon. Toss with the tongs to combine the ingredients and enjoy.
- Variations: any meat can be added to or used to replace the bacon in this dish, the bacon can be removed to make it vegetarian, the bacon dripping can be substituted with any kind of oil, and any vegetables can be used.
- Don’t rinse off your pasta when you are going to have a dish that requires a sauce even if that sauce is pasta water. The extra starch from cooking the pasta helps the sauce stick to it.
- Be careful to not overcook your vegetables. Use the zucchini as a gauge for the rest of the vegetables. When the zucchini begins to turn translucent stop cooking the rest of the vegetables.
- Any shape pasta can be used including varieties that are not whole wheat.
- Not washing the pasta pot allows you to heat it to the temperature that you want faster. Water cools the pot off and causes you to begin working with a cold pot again.