Pasta, my greatest love…
I can’t think of anything more comforting than curling up on the couch after a long day with a big bowl of pasta. It’s my ultimate comfort food and nothing fires up the serotonin in my brain quite like carbs tossed in a tasty sauce and generously dusted with finely grated cheese.
Being that it is a budget-friendly buy and a pantry staple, I happily indulge in pasta lunches and dinners several times a week.
The inspiration for my latest pasta recipe du jour came when I started experimenting with various pasta all amatriciana recipes. For those unaware, all amatriciana is an Italian recipe for pasta tossed in a sauce of guanciale (Italian cured pork jowl) and tomatoes. Being as I am enamored with anything bacon or guanciale centered, I tried out every recipe I came across. Unfortunately for me, no recipe that I tried could quite hit the spot. I wanted more of a bacon flavor paired with a light tomato sauce.
Keeping that flavor profile in mind, I threw together this recipe while in a hurry to put together a quick dinner for my daughter. Melt some butter in a pan with lots of garlic, add some fresh thyme and thick-cut bacon. Fry until slightly golden then add some fresh tomatoes and stew. The end result was a big hit with everyone. The salty bacon pairs deliciously well with light tomato and garlic sauce brought out by lemony thyme. I toss it with shell pasta (conchiglie) because I find it best catches the sauce and bacon but you are free to experiment with whatever pasta you like best. Just sprinkle some finely grated Pecorino cheese on top and indulge in the ultimate comfort of this tasty tomato and bacon pasta.
Shell pasta tossed in a light tomato and bacon sauce made with fresh thyme and butter. A delicious and easy pasta recipe to indulge in. #budgetfriendly #quickdinners #healthyrecipes #pasta #bacon
3 Slices (120 g / ~ 4 oz) of thick-cut smoked streaky bacon (you can also use pancetta or any other smoked pork belly)
9 Garlic cloves (smashed)
9 Sprigs of thyme
3 tbsp butter
6 medium Red tomatoes
250 g (~9 oz) Shell pasta (conchiglie)
In a medium to a large saucepan, melt 3 tbsp of butter over medium heat.
Remove fibrous stems and shells from garlic cloves. Using the side of a knife, smash the cloves.
Cut bacon into pieces no larger than 1 cm (0.5 inch) large. Add bacon pieces the melted butter in the pan along with thyme sprigs and smashed garlic cloves.
Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and cook on medium heat until bacon is crispy and garlic is golden (about 10 minutes). Be careful not to burn the garlic otherwise, it will taste bitter.
Meanwhile, wash tomatoes, remove the core at the top and diced into pieces no bigger than 1 cm (0.5 inch).
When bacon is crisp and garlic is golden, stir in diced tomatoes. Increase heat to high and let bubble away for a minute or so then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer.
Let simmer on low for 10-15 minutes. Make sure to give it a stir every once in a while to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
While sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to directions on the package and drain. Remember to salt your pasta! My recommendation is 1 tbsp of sea salt to every 2 liters of water. It should taste like salty soup. Always taste the water before adding uncooked pasta.
After the sauce has simmered and tomatoes have lost all shape, carefully remove thyme sprigs and season with sea salt to taste. Make sure you take into account the seasoning of the pasta when adding salt to the sauce. If your pasta is salty, go light on the salt.
Add cooked pasta to the sauce and toss together. Sprinkle some cheese on top and dig in!
Salt your pasta water according to the sauce you will be using. If you have a salty sauce, go light on the salt in which the pasta is boiled. If your sauce is a bit underseasoned, go saltier on the water in which the pasta is cooked.
Want perfect al dente pasta? Drain pasta 1-2 minutes before the expected finish time and add to the sauce. Let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce along with a ladle or two of starchy pasta water.
Make sure you leave a cup or two of pasta water kicking around after you drain the pasta. You might need a ladle or two of the starchy water to better help incorporate or marry the pasta sauce with the pasta.
- Category: Main, Pasta
- Method: Simmering
- Cuisine: Western
Keywords: pasta, shell pasta, shells, conchiglie, tomato, bacon, smoked pork belly, pancetta, thyme, garlic, butter, budget friendly, recipe, quick dinner, easy dinner