Escaping the Pasta Rut
My love of pasta is deep. I’m a quarter Italian. I love carbs. It’s a match made in heaven for me really.
But there’s a slight problem with pasta. It can be a bit two dimensional.
What I mean is that pasta typically comes in two forms: either drowned in tomato sauce or drowned in cream.
Both are good, but both aren’t good all the time. Sometimes I’m in the mood for pasta (actually I’m always pretty much in the mood for pasta), but the tomato or cream options leave me stranded.
But a dish like this is my pasta savior. My favorite thing about this dish is that you can smell it when you’re in the other room. The lemon flavors cut through all the other stuff and just smack you in the face. It takes normal pasta flavors and makes them altogether new.
Lemon and Bacon Pasta
Yield: Serves 4.
10-12 ounces fettuccine or linguine
4 ounces thick bacon or pancetta
1 pound broccoli florets, about 5 cups
1/4 Cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 Cup olive oil
1 large lemon, zest and juice (you can use two if you love lemon)
2 Teaspoons fresh thyme
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Zester for lemons (I also use it to grate Parm)
1) Prep all the ingredients. Dice bacon. Cut up broccoli into florets. Grate cheese. Zest and juice lemon.
2) In a large pot, bring salted water to boil. Once boiling, add broccoli florets and boil for 2 minutes until bright. Remove with slotted spoon and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
3) Add bacon to a small pan over medium high heat and cook until crispy, about 10 minutes.
4) Cook pasta in same water as broccoli.
5) Drain pasta and return to same pot. Stir in butter, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme, and if you want, a bit of bacon grease.
6) Stir well to combine, then fold in broccoli and bacon.
7) Season with pepper and serve with a handful of Parmesan cheese.
Prepping the Ingredients
This whole meal takes about 30 minutes to make, but there are a few different tasks. First, you’ll need to blanch the broccoli before adding it to the pasta at the end.
Since you’ll need to get water boiling for the pasta anyway, you can just use the same boiling water to blanch the broccoli.
Chop the broccoli into even florets, no bigger than one inch. You might have to chop some in half or even in quarters. Once your water is boiling, add 1 Tablespoon of salt and then add all your broccoli florets.
Cook them for about 2 minutes, stirring regularly. They should turn really bright green. Remove the florets from the water with a slotted spoon and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process. They should have a tiny bite to them still.
Set them aside for later!
You’ll also need to dice up some bacon. Again, not hard. I recommend the thick stuff for this recipe.
Zesting and juicing the lemon is another task. I always think it’s easier to zest before juicing. Remember to try to get just the bright yellow skin of the lemon, not the white pith underneath which is really bitter.
I used just one lemon, but I think if I make this again, I might even up it to two just to bring an even more lemony flavor to the dish.
Add your bacon to a pan over medium-high heat and cook it until the pieces are very crispy. This might take 10 minutes. You can start cooking your pasta during this time also.
Once the bacon is nice and crispy, remove it from the pan. These are the few other ingredients you’ll need.
Cook your pasta according to the package and after you drain it, add it back to the pot with the butter, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and thyme. Stir that all together really well.
If you wanted to enhance the bacon flavor, you could add 1 Tablespoon of bacon grease to the pasta as well. I didn’t do this, but I considered it!
Once your pasta is coated well with the sauce, stir in the bacon and broccoli and you’re ready to go! Don’t forget to add some pepper. It probably won’t need salt because the Parmesan cheese is pretty salty.
Serve up the pasta with a good sprinkle of cheese on top.
Betsy was worried about this dish being too heavy because of the bacon and butter and stuff, but it’s actually really light. The ratio of butter and oil to pasta is relatively small compared to a standard cream based pasta recipe and the lemon brightens the whole dish and makes it really good.
If you’re in a pasta rut, give this guy a shot.