Friday, February 24, 2012

Bacon Tomato Lentil Pasta

These lentils look so pretty!
 Things I love about this recipe:
(1)   It’s got bacon (and no….I do not have a bacon addiction ….I’ve been tested...)
(2)    I love the bitter flavor of arugula
(3)    The lentils make the pasta seem creamy without actually adding any cream (healthy-ish, right?)
a.     I've also heard that lentils are good for you (wikipedia knows everything!)
(4)   The ingredient list is pretty simple...
a.     Whenever a recipe calls for 'pasta', I try to use brown rice pasta (as a general rule, I 'try' to 'healthify' the rest of my diet in an effort to balance out the amount of bacon that I consume....)
b.     If arugula isn't your cup of tea, you can supplement with flat leaf parsley (...now, I am not trying to tell you what to do here, but I would really 'recommend' giving arugula another try... )

I adapted this recipe from one I found in a Martha Stewart magazine a million years ago.  It's a good hearty winter pasta and makes for good leftovers. 

(Although I don't always do this....even though I should) I recommend reading the directions in its entirety prior to starting the recipe.  In order to minimize the cooking time,  you can caramelize (- this is possibly the most overused word in my Dad's vocabulary....he'll be excited that it made an appearance on my blog...) the onions and boil the lentils at the same time.

Bacon Tomato Lentil Pasta
(Makes 4-6 servings as a main course)

Ingredients:
4-5 slices smoky bacon, diced
2 large onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
Salt & pepper
12 ounces tomatoes, cored and diced (2 cups) (In the winter, I use the unsalted canned ones – I think 'Unico' is the brand)
3/4 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over for the hard/sandy bits
1 bay leaf
Low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
12 ounces (brown rice) fusilli or another short pasta
1 bunch arugula
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan

Directions:
(1) In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté bacon pieces until crispy
When I remove the crispy bacon from the pan, I put it on a plate lined with paper towel to suck up the extra grease...
(2) Remove bacon from pan; drain out all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the skillet.
(3) Add the onions and 1/2 tsp of salt; cover and cook on medium-low heat (stirring occasionally) until onions are wilted (about 20-25 minutes).
Wilted onions....
(4) Remove cover and turn heat to medium.  Cook onions, stirring often, for about 30 minutes until onions are a rich brown colour.
Caramelized onions....
(5) Add back bacon pieces and tomatoes to the skillet; cook for about 5 minutes more stirring often.
(6) (while the onions are wilting/browning) In a medium sauce pan, cover lentils with chicken stock by 1 inch.  Add the bay leaf to pot.
(7) Bring the lentils to a simmer; then cover and let cook for 20-25 minutes - until they are tender, but still hold their shape.
(8) Once the lentils are done, drain them and mix into the onion/bacon/tomato mixture.  Season for salt and pepper.
Onion/bacon/tomato/lentil mixture....
(9) Cook pasta in salted water until tender; reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, drain pasta and return the pasta to the pasta pot (this will be a good place to mix everything together).
(10) To the pasta, add the lentil mixture, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and the 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Toss, drizzle with a bit of olive oil (I drizzled with hazelnut oil, because I had some on hand - which added a lovely nutty flavour) and serve with more parmesan if required.
This pasta makes for good leftovers the next day....
...Should you want to make this a vegetarian dish, (1) Scrap the bacon (gasp) and use 2 tablespoons of olive oil prior to adding the onions and salt in Step 3; & (2) Use vegetable stock or water to boil the lentils in Step 7.


Happy Cooking!

2 comments:

  1. This is a very unique recipe and I like the elements of this pasta. Also, it is a great way to get more lentils into my diet. So glad you shared this one-yum! Enjoy the weekend!

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  2. What a lovely idea of pairing lentils with pasta! Well done!

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