Bacon Ricotta Noodles
Jen here! This is actually the first of a two-for-one recipe . . . but we almost never get to the second part (“Mock spinach and Ricotta Lasagna) because we like these noodles so much – but I’ll give those instructions, if you really, really want. I’ve run across the recipe (or similar) a couple of times. I’m sharing from another favorite cookbook, Desperation Dinners!, which is a book full of (and I quote from the cover) “Home-cooked meals for frantic families in 20 minutes flat. by Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross.” These recipes really do go together fast . . . maybe up to 30 minutes if you’re interrupted by your kids . . . or have to wash the pot before you can use it. But, hey, I’m flexible. They also don’t count oven preheating or water boiling in their 20 minutes to the table time. They figure you walk in the door, turn on the oven or stove, drop off your stuff, get home and settled, and then start your 20 minutes dash to dinner.
So – here it goes – and remember, there are few things that make your house smell better than bacon and onions cooking together. (While attempting to type this post, I fixed a bowl of these noodles, only to have it hijacked by my two-year old. They’re kid-friendly, too. We used whole wheat penne this time for a bit more nutritional punch.) I’m guessing that over time, we’ll learn to make our own ricotta cheese, because I think it can be made with the same kit as the mozzarella. When making this, don’t forget to save the 3T pasta water for the sauce.
Bacon Ricotta Noodles (Two-For-One Noodles p. 170)
4 cups (16 ounces) penne 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 small onion (for 1/2 cup diced) 3 slices bacon (turkey, regular, or low-sodium) 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves (optional) 1 large container (15 ounces) reduced-fat ricotta cheese 1/4 cup already-grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving 1/2 teaspoon dried basil* 3 tablespoons hot water from the pasta pot
1. Place the penne in 3 quarts of already-boiling unsalted water and cook until tender, 11-13 minutes (per package).
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in an 8-inch or larger nonstick skillet, over low heat. Peel and dice the onion and add it to the skillet. Coarsely chop the bacon, add it to the skillet and cook until the onion is tender and the bacon is not quite crisp, about 3 minutes. While the onion and bacon cook, chop the parsley (if using). *If you have fresh basil substitute 1 tablespoon chopped for the dried. Chop it when you chop the parsley, if using.
3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and onion to a 3-quart or larger serving bowl. To the bowl add the ricotta, the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, and hot cooking water from the pasta pot. Stir well and set aside.
4. Drain the penne well and pour half immediately into the bowl with the ricotta mixture. Stir well to mix, and add the remaining penne and stir well again. Season with salt and pepper and serve, passing extra Parmesan at the table.
Serves 8 or 4 with leftovers to make the lasagna.
Mock Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna p. 1721 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach 4 cups leftover Two-for-One Noodles (half of the above recipe) 1 jar (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce (or one quart bag if you’ve made your own) 1 cup (4 ounces) already-shredded mozzarella cheese
1. The oven should be already heated to 425°F.
2. Place the block of frozen spinach in a microwave-safe dish, cover, and microwave on high for 5 minutes to defrost.
3. Meanwhile, place the Two-for-One Noodles in a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish, separating any that may be stuck together. When the spinach id defrosted, drain well and scatter over the noodles. Top with the spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with the cheese.
4. Bake until bubbly hot, 12 minutes. Serve at once.