We love spinach in our house. The kids love it in pasta and I love in salads. DH will eat it in anything.
I bought a bag of the pre-washed stuff the other day with the intent of wilting it with some olive oil, garlic & red pepper flakes. But I decided to google and see if there was anything else I could do with pasta and spinach. Several recipes came up and I decided to do my own version of spinach, bacon and tomatoes – ingredients I luckily had on hand.
As I was putting it together, I was writing about it on Facebook. (Addicted, anyone?) Here is my recipe as I made it this evening.
- 1 large bag of fresh spinach
- 6 slices of bacon
- 1 can (14.5 oz) of diced tomatoes (I would use 2 cans next time as I ended up with a lot more pasta than sauce)
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic
- fennel seeds
- dried basil (or fresh if you have it on hand)
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- 1 lb trottole or any larger “curly” pasta* – cooked al dente
- Boil large pot of water to cook pasta.
- Take bacon, cut into small pieces and cook in a deep skillet until nicely crisped. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Drop some of the bacon fat into the water for your pasta. Discard remaining bacon fat except for what you would normally use to sautee (sorry – I still don’t do measurements!). Think in terms of how much olive oil you would use when making a typical Italian sauce.
- Brown your chopped garlic and then add diced tomatoes.
- I was a bit hesitant about using canned tomatoes considering I had some fresh Roma tomatoes in the crisper but I don’t think I’d make this again without using the canned tomatoes. It was that flavorful!
- Season with the fennel seeds, basil, salt and pepper. Why fennel seeds? I don’t know. I walked into my pantry, looked through my spices, spied the little bottle fennel seeds and thought “Ah-hah!”. So, I added them…and I am glad I did!
- Let simmer for just a few minutes – it will smell wonderful – and why wouldn’t it? Bacon fat, garlic, tomatoes and spices.
- Don’t let it caramelize – it will change the taste – you really want it to be more like a fresh tomato sauce that hasn’t been on the stove for hours and hours like my Auntie Kay’s and Nanny’s traditional “gravy”.
- Your water should have been boiling by now. Be sure to cook your pasta al dente. For the trottole pasta I used, it took exactly 14 minutes to get to al dente. Do not overcook your pasta. You will be disappointed pairing this sauce with mushy pasta.
- While your pasta is cooking, drop your spinach into your colander. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it into the spinach-filled colander. This should nicely wilt your spinach. Toss gently.
- Return the drained pasta and spinach to your pot and add the crispy bacon bits.
- Do a little more gentle tossing.
- Spoon up your pasta into your favorite pasta bowl, put a few generous spoonfuls of your sauce on it and top with some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano. Enjoy!