Sunday, November 22, 2009

Now & Later Recipes: A BLT Helps Prepare Bacon Topped Pasta

A classic lunchtime sandwich, a BLT is everyone's favorite. The only downside of making the main ingredient, bacon, is the dirty-pan cleanup. But like they say at garage sales and in thrift stores, one person's trash is another person's treasure.

That dirty pan is actually the starting point for our Later meal, a delicious dinner entree of pasta with parsley, mushrooms, and bacon.

Now: BLT
Later: Spaghetti Topped with Crispy Bacon

Now: BLT

With a BLT, a little goes a long way. Think of bacon as the flavor part of the sandwich. The lettuce and tomato make up the bulk of what is actually a very nutritious, healthy meal. Adding a slice of ripe avocado makes the sandwich even more filling and flavorful.

Yield 4 servings

Time 20 minutes


8 slices bacon (4 for Now; 4 for Later)
8 slices bread
4 lettuce leaves, red leaf, romaine, or iceberg
1 large ripe tomato
1 medium ripe avocado (optional0
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Sea salt and pepper


Toast the bread if you want and set aside to cool. To cook the bacon, don't use a nonstick pan. Because you want the flavor bits, use a stainless steel or cast iron pan.

Over a low flame, lay the bacon in the pan so the slices don't touch. Turn the slices over so they brown evenly. Once they're crisp, lay them on paper towels to drain.

Pour off the fat but otherwise don't clean the frying pan. Put the pan and half the bacon aside to use for the Later recipe.

Spread a thin layer of mayo on each piece of bread. I've found the sandwich is easier to cut if I slice the bread in half at the beginning. Then I build each sandwich, one half at a time.

Each half has a piece of crisp bacon, 1-2 pieces of lettuce, and a slice of tomato. Add a slice of ripe avocado if you want. Also optional is a thin slice of red onion. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve with pickles or chips.

Later: Spaghetti Topped with Crispy Bacon

To make the sauce there are many ingredients you can use. I like a simple saute of onions, garlic, parsley, and mushrooms. The crisp bacon and grated cheese are used as a topping.

If you wanted, you could saute Italian sausage, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, or broccoli. Instead of spaghetti, use any pasta you or your kids enjoy. For seasoning, you could also add oregano or rosemary.

Yield 4 servings

Time 30 minutes


4 slices of cooked bacon
1 pound pasta
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, roughly chopped
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, dried
1/2 pound mushrooms, brown, shiitake, or portabella, washed, sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sweet butter
Sea salt and pepper
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 cup pasta water


First make the pasta by filling a large pot with water. Add 3 tablespoons kosher salt. Avoid using table salt because of the metallic taste. Bring to a boil.

Add the pasta and stir. Most pasta cooks in 10 minutes or less. To prevent sticking and even cooking, stir frequently. Taste a piece for doneness. To capture the pasta water, place a heat-resistant cup in the sink. Hold the colander over the cup and pour in the pasta and the cooking water. Set the pasta water aside.

Return the pasta to the pot. Drizzle with olive oil, add 1 tablespoon butter, season with sea salt and pepper, and toss well. Lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top to keep the pasta warm. Do not seal the pot.

In the frying pan with the bacon flavor bits, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat over a medium flame. Add the garlic, onions, parsley, and mushrooms. Saute until lightly brown.

Add the pasta water to deglaze the pan. Stir so the flavor bits come off the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the butter and stir. Reduce the liquid until 1/3 - 1/4 the original volume. Taste and adjust the seasoning with the sea salt and pepper. Since the pasta water is salty, you may not need additional sea salt.

Add the pasta to the pan and toss well to coat with the sauce.

Serve with grated cheese.