Easy, Elegant, and Delicious
This morning, I didn’t know what we were going to have for dinner. But tonight, using mostly things on hand, I made a new meal and wow. It was tasty and came together easily. I wanted to type up my recipe before I forgot and also share the deliciousness in the process.
First, the pasta. Tim and I went on a date in Wentzville, MO recently and using our GPS, we located a cute little Italian restaurant. He ordered a tomato pasta with garlic, bacon and onions and absolutlely loved the flavor combinaiton. I tried a bite and love it too, and resolved to try to recreate it at home. I looked up a couple recipes and adapted my own in the end. The result? Yum! Isaac finished his first bowl of pasta before I even got to the table to try mine.
Secondly, the salad. I am reading a new book that I love called Bread and Wine: a Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist, who happens to be pastor Bill Hybel’s daughter. Each chapter is written memoir style with a recipe at the end. Because of this book, I was resolved to try making my own vinaigrette dressing. Since I was making pasta, it seemed the perfect night to try it out. (If you are lacking cooking inspiration, you should buy this book. It is wonderful, fun, easy to read, and full of real-people recipes.)
So, five ingredients to make balsamic vinaigrette, and… I am in love. I even had all these ingredients on hand; I didn’t have to buy anything. I might not go back to bottled dressings. You can tweak the recipe a million ways, but I will share the basic one. I did not use the full amount of olive oil because I discovered I like it pretty sour with lots of balsamic flavor. The great thing about making your own vinaigrette is that you don’t need to stuff the salad full of trimmings. The dressing is so tasty that you can go really simple and still feel like you are enjoying a restaurant quality salad. I dressed ours with only carrots and sunflower seeds. The dressing is concentrated and a little goes a long way. It makes enough for more than one salad and stores easily in the fridge in a small tupperware dish.
So, here are my yummies from tonight.
Garlic, Bacon, and Onion Pasta
- One 14 ½ oz can of diced tomatoes
- One 15 oz can of tomato sauce
- salt for pasta and 1/2 tsp for sauce
- 1 large white or yellow onion
- Olive oil (a couple drizzles)
- 2 tsp minced garlic (from the jar)
- 6 ounces bacon, chopped—about five strips
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 pound curly pasta or tube pasta
- ¼ — ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta. Add a tablespoon of salt.
- Heat skillet to medium heat. Chop bacon (I use my kitchen shears) into hot skillet.
- Chop onion and add to bacon with garlic and red pepper. Sprinkle with pepper and salt to taste. Cook these until the onions are golden and the bacon is crisp. It takes awhile. I added some drizzles of olive oil if the pan seemed to be getting dry and used the oil to scrape the bacony bits off the bottom.
- When the pan mixture is nicely browned and crispy, add the cans of tomatoes and sauce. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, and then turn to medium-low. Simmer sauce, adjusting the heat to make sure it doesn’t boil, until it thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir often to scrap up bacon bits and keep sauce evenly cooking.
- With about ten minutes left, add pasta to the boiling water. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. When it is al dente, remove pasta with a pair of tongs and transfer it to the skillet with the sauce. Toss over medium heat until pasta is coated in the sauce.
- Turn off the heat, and add grated cheese. Divide pasta between the plates and serve.
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
1 Tablespoon Dijon
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 – 1/4 tsp pepper (I love pepper, so I used more)
1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
Whisk together dijon, vinegar, salt and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking. Take a piece of lettuce, dip in the dressing, and taste. This is how you will learn how much olive oil you like. When you dress the salad, pour in small amounts and toss. It goes further than you might think.