ASPARAGUS AND BACON PENNE
This is the first of my 20 minutes every day dishes that I am posting to the blog. I used to shared them only on Stories and then save them in Highlights but as many of you have pointed out, highlights it’s not the most convenient place where to go and dig out recipes.
So, here we are. These simple, unpretentious but delicious dishes have made it to the blog.
This is what I cook on a normal day. I am a single mum working long hours in the creative business. When I cook for my family I want something tasty to lift our spirits, beautiful to please our eyes, as healthy as possible allowing a little indulgence for my teenage children who enjoy an hearty meal and, above all, something fast.
I promised myself long ago that I will stay out of processed food and ready-made or take away dinners, but I still need to get food on the table, as I like to say, in about 20 minutes, from the moment I step in the kitchen to the moment I serve. And I promise you it is possible and Italian food has endless recipes that you can make in less than half an hour contrary to what is often believed. Italian kitchen is simple and unpretentious; genuine and delicious. The simpler the recipe, the more authentic and mouth-watering. It’s about using good ingredients and balancing the flavours. That’s it. I promise.
One more consideration before we get to the recipe. You will notice I haven’t given quantities’ indications for olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. The reason is because, and any home cook will agree with me, we normally don’t cook with the scale at hand. There is no time for all the fuss. Cooking is instinctive and part of our body memory. If you ask me how much salt to put in the water to boil pasta I honestly have no freaking idea. I dig my hand in the rock salt container and just dose it. I will put exactly what is needed. It comes with time and my suggestion is, if you are not there, just put some and taste the water. It should taste pretty salty to be able to salt the pasta in the short time that is cooking it.
Also the amount of salt, pepper and oil is very subjective, so I believe the right amount is the one you like. When you dose the oil for the asparagus, use enough to be able to pan fry them on hot fire. Consider also that is the only fat you are using for seasoning ½ kg pasta.
For the Parmesan cheese what to say… there is nothing like too much of it. Be generous, but don’t forget that too much will cover the asparagus taste and will thicken the sauce. In Italian we will say that it dries out the sauce. And please, don’t buy the already grated one. It’s awful and will spoil the delicate flavour and balance of the ingredients. Make an effort and just grate some.
If you want to opt for a vegetarian version of this pasta, simply skip the bacon. It will still be delicious.
Ingredients for 4/5 people:
500 gr penne
Rock salt for the boiling water where you will cook your pasta (if you don’t have, fine salt is ok)
50 gr bacon
2 asparagus bunches
Smoked salt for the asparagus (if you don’t have it, normal salt will do just fine)
Black pepper freshly grounded
Lots of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Extra VIrgin Olive Oil
Put a big pan three quarter filled with water on the fire and bring it to boil. Here you will cook your pasta and pasta needs plenty of water.
In the meanwhile, put some extra virgin olive oil in a shallow and wide pan and heat it up. While the oil is getting hot, slice the bacon finely and then fry it briefly in the oil while you are chopping the asparagus.
Once the bacon is crispy, add the asparagus and cook briefly on very hot fire. You want them still to be slightly crunchy. Do not add water and stir frequently so the asparagus won’t stick to the bottom of the pan or burn.
As soon as the water is boiling add some rock salt to it and then the pasta and let it cook following the maker’s instructions.
By the time the past is cooked your dressing will be ready and you should have also had some time to generously grate the Parmesan cheese.
Mix everything. Season with freshly grated black pepper and parmesan cheese.
You are ready to go. Buon appetito.
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