Friday, January 2, 2015

Quick Dinner: Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan

I seem to make a lot of meals where J turns at the end of them (or after the first mouthful) and says, "You're going to make this again, right?"  I dutifully promise that I will, and then move on to the next recipe that I promise I'll make again.
This recipe is different.  I want this again.  Soon.
As always with recipes from Budget Bytes, there's tons of flavour and it uses things that are found in my pantry on a regular basis.  While I enjoy making things that involve off beat things, it's nice to have somewhere to turn for recipes that I can make at the end of the week when I haven't been to the store in a while.
I buy the big packages of bacon here, and freeze the strips individually on waxed paper in a gallon ziploc.  I would suggest this to anyone who knows that buying a package of bacon is a mistake because it will go bad before you use it, or you know that you'll be forced to eat way too much bacon in the name of "using it up".  I used to be able to buy bacon by the slice at the butcher counter, and that's a great way to go too - except my butcher doesn't seem to be stocking it at the moment.  So, freeze and use as needed is the way to go.
Bacon, pasta and cheese in a bowl.  How could it be bad?  With some spinach to make it healthy.  Yup.  Let's call this health food.
I present to you now Budget Bytes' Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan:

6 slices bacon, cut into 1" pieces
1 small onion, chopped finely
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c chicken broth
1/2 lb penne pasta
5 oz package baby spinach
1/3 c Parmesan cheese, grated

1.  In a skillet with a lid, cook bacon until crispy and brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Pour off most of the drippings from the pan before adding onion, garlic and pepper flakes.  Cook until fragrant and the onion is soft.
2.  Return bacon to the pan, along with the broth.  Stir well, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Add pasta and cover.  Bring to a boil over high heat, before lowering to a simmer.  Stir every 5 minutes for 15 minutes, until pasta is cooked through.
3.  Add spinach to the skillet and stir in to wilt.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

From Budget Bytes

This is like making the Monterrey Chicken Skillet.  I was amazed both times that the pasta cooked.  It doesn't need to be completely submerged when you start to simmer.  The flavour by cooking it in the broth is incredible, and the sauce creates itself from the starch of the noodle.
J and I both like spinach.  I used fresh, but I'm sure it would work with well-squeezed frozen as well.  When it's wilted, the dish is done.  It took me about 30 minutes to get this meal on the table.  I love meals like that.
Doesn't it look delicious?  It reminded me somewhat of the Bacon and Spinach Stuffed Shells, but was infinitely less work.  Another winner that I need to make again!

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