Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Pea, Bacon, Pepper Pasta
Here's what happened:
The other night, I delayed going home from work because Chris was working until 10:00 pm and I hate farting around the house by myself. I got home around 8:00 (my work day actually ends at 4:30) and loafed around for a bit. I didn't really get hungry until about 9:00, when I was hit with a sudden craving for greasy, crispy fast food.
As I'm sure you know, 99% of the time, fast food is never as satisfying as you think it's going to be. It winds up tasting crappy and stale and unlike actual food. It makes me feel like the the edible woman as I imagine the greasy, filler-packed "food" traveling through my body. But I really wanted some chicken fingers. I actually had my shoes on and my purse in hand when I shook my head and looked in the fridge. Things were pretty bleak. A little leftover produce that needed to get used and some cheese. I looked in the cupboard. I chewed on the stale remains of a bag of tortilla chips as I mulled over what to make. I saw the end of a box of flax spaghettini and I knew it was going to be pasta.
I was still craving some kind of protein, so I looked in the freezer. Hooray: bacon! Tip: freeze bacon in groups of two strips. you can put three sets of two strips in a freezer bag folded into thirds. Then, when you just need a teeny bit of bacon, you only have to use a teeny bit. It also thaws really fast (especially if you thaw it by throwing it in a hot pan--I'm sure this is some kind of bacon sacrilege, but at least I didn't go to McDonald's, right?).
In fifteen minutes, I wound up with a gourmet(ish) meal that tasted great, contained real ingredients, didn't cost a fortune, and was much healthier than any fast food (sorry for the picture quality, by the way, but it was about 9:30 when I took this). Now, if I didn't know a teeny bit about cooking, I might have succumbed to the lure of imitation food. But it doesn't take much to know that bacon and peas and shallots are friends, that lemon, parm, a splash of white wine and some goat cheese get along great, and that oregano belongs in pasta dishes. I guess what it really comes down to is thinking of dishes that you've enjoyed and what ingredients they contained that tasted good together. Also, keep some sort of pasta or grain in the cupboard, and some kind of cheese and produce in the fridge. I hope I'm not getting preachy here (okay, I know I am), but what I'm saying is, you can cook! Really! (I'm sure many of you read this blog because you already know you can cook, but I'll bet there are also many of you who don't).
Granted, you may have to eat a few frogs (that metaphor doesn't really translate, especially if you like eating frogs) before you find your kitchen groove. For example, I discovered at about age sixteen that you cannot just shake a little of everything in the spice rack into the spaghetti sauce. Cloves just do not work there. But it's kind of fun figuring it out.
So that's my story: keep a few reasonable pantry ingredients on hand (in this case, shallots, pasta, lemon, wine, parm) and you can make a meal that will satisfy and taste good. Also, try this particular dish because it was awesome! The only thing that would have taken it into out-of-this-world territory is a little teensy bit of heavy cream. But I was trying to be healthier than fast food, so I suppose it's just as well. Maybe ricotta...
Here's what I did:
Pea, Bacon, Pepper Pasta
2 strips bacon
1 small shallot
1/2 a small, sweet red pepper, sliced
1/2 cup snap peas, trimmed and halved
a couple of splashes of white wine
1/4 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
1/4 cup reserved pasta water
2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 servings of flaxmeal spaghettini, cooked according to package instructions
1. In a sautee pan, cook the bacon and set aside on paper towel to drain.
2. Leave 1 tbsp bacon fat in the pan and sautee shallot and pepper until softened.
3. Add peas and wine and cook until wine is reduce (just a minute or two).
4. Stir in goat cheese and parm and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add pasta and reserved water and toss until pasta is well combined with veggies and sauce. Serve with additional parm reg.
Pairs nicely with a tiny bit of willpower and a modicum of skill.