You may have been wondering what is going on with the aquarium project (check out the Spanish Soup post for a picture). We have had some issues getting the heater working right, so we still don’t have any fish (much to Alex’s irritation). But stay tuned! I am hoping to have some tomorrow!
I was telling you guys about our 10th anniversary and going out for a swanky dinner to celebrate. On the way home (a solid 45-60 minutes) I begged John to stop at Half Price Books. Living a bit rurally means I take the opportunity to pop into used bookstores any chance I get–even at night on the way home from a celebratory dinner and half tipsy. That he indulged me despite the 640 cookbooks already sitting on my bookshelves is quite possibly a miracle. Because he knew where I was headed, straight back to the cookbooks.
And now the number is 644.
I think the biggest reason he doesn’t fuss (much), in addition to the fact of course that he loves me and wants me happy, is because inevitably after purchasing new cookbooks he comes home to meals like this one. On days where I did not even think about dinner until well after 4 pm. This is a true 30 minute meal, and was delicious to boot. I found it in Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes, which I picked up for a whopping $2.00 that night! Now how can you say no to that? And now that I have used it, I will go so far as to say pay full price! You won’t be disappointed.
As always, I was more inspired by the recipe than moved to follow it exactly. I chose bacon where he used pancetta, crimini (“Baby Bella”) mushrooms where he used shitake, and I fiddled in other ways as well. Cooking the bacon with onions is straight from the recipe, and I was really happy I did. Bacon fat is flavor, and there was not so much bacon as to make the dish oily or greasy. It would never have occurred to me to try that and I am now really glad I did.
One quick note about the pasta. I used my favorite brand of “fancy” pasta, Rustichella, which I buy at Jungle Jim’s, and I have also seen available at various Mediterranean import stores. The Rustichella Trofie Pasta was the shape I chose. I recommend both the shape and the brand (that particular shape is hand rolled so you know a lot of care goes into their product) but if you do not have access to either that brand or that pasta shape, just substitute another Italian style noodle that is about 1-2 inches long and quite skinny. Be sure to cook them in salted water!
- 1 lb trofie pasta (or another short, skinny shape) cooked to al dente, ½ cup cooking water reserved
- 1 medium sized yellow onion, finely diced
- 2-3 T unsalted butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 T dry white wine (I used an open vinho verde I had lying around)
- 5-6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
- 1 lb crimini (baby portobello) mushrooms, sliced
- several handfuls of cherry tomatoes, tiny ones left whole and large ones sliced in half
- ½ cup pasta cooking water
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1-2 oz freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
- red pepper flakes, to taste, optional
- Cook the pasta to al dente. When you drain, be sure to reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and sauté on medium high until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the white wine to the pan to deglaze any spots that are sticking. Scrape all the tasty bits up.
- When the wine cooks off, add the bacon. Cook, tossing, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is starting to get crispy, about 5 minutes.
- Spread the onions and bacon to the sides of the pan and add half of the mushrooms into the middle. Cook without stirring for 3 minutes, and then toss the mushrooms into the onion bacon mixture. Then push this mixture to the sides, and repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are golden brown and starting to shrink.
- Add the cherry tomatoes with a pinch of salt and toss. Let cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the pasta water and the cream. Bring to a boil. Let simmer briskly for 3 minutes, until the cream has thickened.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat.
- Add the drained pasta into the sauce along with 1 ounce of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Toss to throughly coat the pasta and evenly distribute the cheese. Serve topped with more freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and red pepper flakes for those who want them.