Friday, August 28, 2009

Bacon Arugula Pasta

If you find yourself at home on a Friday night working on a dissertation chapter that seems to be going absolutely nowhere while your friends are out in the city enjoying their summer, you might consider taking a break to make yourself a simple, refreshing dinner, one that won't put a strain on a stomach already overtaxed with copious amounts of caffeine. It's quite simple - all you need is some pasta, bacon, arugula, red wine vinegar, lemon and, in the absence of shallots, garlic and onion. (As you may have guessed, this recipe was inspired by the asparagus with bacon vinaigrette I made awhile ago)

Make water in pot, add salt and set on the stove on high heat.
Meanwhile, chop 4 slices of bacon (this is dinner, after all.) and set it in a pan on low heat. As it starts to cook and grease the pan, finely chop 1/4 of an onion you find in the fridge, and 2 cloves of garlic (if you have a shallot or two, do that instead). Add them to the pan, keeping the heat fairly low.
Your water should be boiling by now, so add some pasta to it.
Once the garlic and onion are softened, add a few handfuls of arugula (also known as ROCKET! which is a nice thing to remember when you're thinking about how this meal will help you get this gdamn chapter written). Drizzle some red wine vinegar over it and stir until the arugula is wilted but not mush. Hopefully your pasta has now cooked, so drain it and plop it in the pan with the rest so they can get friendly. Slice a 1/4 wedge off your lemon and squeeze the juice over the whole mess, then transfer it to a plate and enjoy.

Now light yourself a cigarette and get back to work.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bacon, pesto and roasted red pepper pasta sauce

I harvested a mass of basil from my garden plot the other day, thinking it'd be a nice, simple summer meal over some pasta. Well, here's the thing - I've been out of town for awhile, and my basil plants have grown rather massive. Pesto is delicious if it's made with tender young leaves, but when it's prepared with sun-parched leaves that are nearly palm sized, it becomes the culinary equivalent of a hunchbacked chain-smoking old lady rather than the nubile young maiden one knows and loves. It should be noted, I suppose, that I neglected to add the pine nuts (I really ought to know better by now, but they always seem so gratuitous to me), and my food processor isn't so nimble these days, so the pesto wasn't as smoothly blended as one might like. Also, I only had a one inch cube of parmesan, so I supplemented the cheese with some handfuls of Kraft's pizzeria blend, which also has has asiago, provolone, mozarella. I think that was a nice touch though. My first move in rejuvenating the hag was to slosh in some roasted red peppers, which indeed made a world of difference. Finally, in a burst of genius, as the pasta was cooking I chopped up and fried a few strips of bacon. The improvement was tremendous - the smoky flavors of the bacon mingle beautifully with the sweetness of the pepper and the garlic in the pesto. I decidedly underestimated the amount of bacon that would be appropriate - I used two strips, but really, one ought to use at least 4. I have amended the recipe below to reflect these findings.

Set some salted water boiling.

In a food processor, combine:
1 cup basil leaves*
1/3 cup parmesan
3 cloves garlic
1/4 jar roasted red peppers
a drizzle of olive oil
some salt

Blend into oblivion.

When the water boils, add pasta of your choice.

Chop and fry 4+ slices bacon.

Combine in bowl and eat.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bacon poll, bacon world, bacon lip balm, and my friend's awesome blog

My friend Charlie alerted me to a poll being conducted by Huffington Post about various bacon stuff. They've assembled a slideshow of a series of things made of bacon and ask you to vote on whether it's a good idea or no.

I have to say, a lot of it seems not only silly, but also rather wasteful. I mean, it's obviously temporary - you can drape a bunch of raw bacon on a lamp shade and gleefully declare that you have a bacon lampshade, but I suspect it only lasts long enough to take a photo, because who wants a rancid meat lamp? Stuff like that generally strikes me as kind of ridiculous, unlike bacon martinis or bacon cupcakes, which are probably delicious. Charlie thought that Bacon World would probably be neat to see in real life. I guess artists do kind of get a pass on wasting food if it's for a higher cause.

I was most excited, actually, by the bacon lip balm. That could be pretty awesome. I bet I'd get a lot more kisses with that on my mouth.

In other news, not strictly related to bacon but still kind of neat - my friend Ben recently discovered that he can acquire mussels at $2 a pound, and has embarked on a mission to make 50 different kinds of mussels. He's blogging about it, and if you're into mussels, you should definitely follow his progress - the man knows food. I dunno how much bacon will figure into the picture (he is certainly a big fan of the pork), but there's already one recipe up that involves pancetta, so who knows. Meanwhile, you should definitely tell him about your favorite mussels recipes.