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Recipe: Tomato, Bacon & Basil Pasta

29 Jul

 

This recipe is really great if you happen to have a couple pounds of garden fresh tomatoes on hand, but is still wonderful with canned, as I used here. My garden isn’t producing anything more than handfuls of marble-sized cherry tomatoes at the moment. Oh, and basil. Basil by the truckloads. I’m finding as many ways to use basil as I can, and I am not complaining. Few things scream summer to me as much as fresh basil and garden tomatoes, but failing that, basil and tomato sauce make a great substitute.

This is a riff on Marcella Hazan‘s classic and simple pasta sauce of tomato, onion and butter. I add basil because it’s so fresh and bright and we have so much of it in the garden right now; garlic, because I can’t get enough garlic; and bacon. I was in the process of cleaning out our fridge and I noticed a package hidden in the back. Isobel has entered her pickiest phase yet, and I wasn’t sure I could get her to participate in dinner and I knew bacon would sweeten the deal. Of course then she caught Anthony’s virus and was too sick to eat much more than broth with rice in it.

Now, this recipe isn’t going to be winning any awards on the health front, but it might not be as bad as it seems. This recipe makes a lot of pasta, so it’s not as if you are eating a stick of butter with bacon in it on your own. It’s distributed throughout. The bacon is drained on paper towels to get rid of excess fat and remain crisp — a nice contrast against the yielding pasta. This recipe made so much pasta I had it for dinner and then Anthony and I ate it as part of our lunch all last week. I still wouldn’t serve it to a heart patient, but the key for us is moderation.

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  • ¬†28 oz (1 lb) crushed canned tomatoes in puree
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • one onion cut into sections, fourths or eighths
  • 1 lb pasta (I used dittalini)
  • 1 package of bacon
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

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- Add the canned tomatoes, butter, onion, and basil to a saucepan. Add a sprinkling of salt to taste.

- Crush the garlic lightly with the flat side of a knife and turn the heat up to medium high until the mixture comes to a simmer.

- Turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at a slow simmer for forty five minutes. Toss the garlic before serving.

- While the sauce cooks, snip the bacon up into fourths with scissors and fry it in a pan. Drain on paper towels when cooked.

- About ten minutes before the sauce is done put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Cook the pasta for about seven minutes or until done.

- Drain pasta and put back into the pot along with the tomato sauce. Stir in the bacon, adjust seasonings and serve with a grating of Parmesan cheese if desired.

 

 

Recipe: Bacon, Pea & Leftovers Pizza

21 Jul

The beginning of last week started off nice and quiet. We’re on a two-week hiatus from swimming lessons (Isobel was promoted to Seahorse, the next level up, have I mentioned how proud I am?!), and we didn’t have any exciting plans until later on in the week. Little did we know at the time that these exciting plans would include a late-night trip to the ER, but that’s a story for tomorrow.

¬†Because the day had gotten off to a leisurely start I decided to take this opportunity to make Tracy’s pea & bacon pizza recipe. I had my eye on this recipe since she first posted it, and I thought it would be a great way to surprise Anthony with a treat when he got home from work. The dough recipe conveniently created two pizzas so I could make the pea and bacon version for us and a cheese and olive version for Isobel.

We actually deviated from both Isobel’s desires and Tracy’s recipe as it we had quite a few leftovers in the fridge that I needed to use up before they went bad, but we did reserve a fourth of one of the pizzas as a purely cheese-and-olive enterprise. If your day isn’t quite so leisurely you can still enjoy a delicious pizza by using store bought pizza dough.

Isobel loved helping me add the toppings. She was really proud she had helped make pizza for dinner. She didn’t realize that this was something you could actually make at home–she thought it was just something you could get at restaurants. She was impressed, I could tell. She also really loves olives. Her pizza would have had more olives on it if she hadn’t kept eating the olives directly out of the can. Girlfriend loves her some olives.

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DOUGH

I followed the no-knead pizza dough recipe exactly, but I deviated quite a bit when it came to the toppings.

TOPPINGS

  • Sauce: Tracy’s recipe doesn’t use a traditional red sauce, but I had a fourth of a jar of tomato basil pasta sauce I needed to use up, so I used a scant smearing of that on the bacon and pea pizza and a more liberal coating for Isobel’s olive pizza.
  • Peas, I used frozen as I had a bag to use up, and I just put them on our pizza
  • Bacon, I used three strips per pizza
  • Green onions, Isobel is going through an anti-onion phase, I only out them on ours. I eyeballed it.
  • Cheese, I used three kinds: shredded mozzarella, fresh mozzarella balls I had leftover that I tore into chunks, and lots of Parmesan.
  • Mushrooms, I had a small handful of baby bella mushrooms that I let Isobel scatter over both pizzas. Half a cup, probably.
  • Basil, Tracy’s recipe calls for fresh mint, but I didn’t have any growing in my garden. My basil was going gangbusters, so I added six or so leaves to one of the pies.

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- At least three hours before you want to eat, prepare the dough according to these instructions.

- Once the dough is ready to go, oil the baking sheets and preheat the oven to 500F.

- Stretch the dough out onto the oiled baking sheet and add the toppings listed above, adjusting for your tastes.

- Spray the exposed pizza crust with olive oil and bake for 18-20 minutes.

It was so, so good, and much easier than I thought it would be to put together. Dinner that night was mostly a quiet affair as we dug in, but at one point Isobel took a break from chewing to shout, “Mmm! Home pizza is my favorite pizza!”

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