Monday, May 10, 2010

Penne with Goat Cheese, Asparagus and Bacon

There is a pasta dish that has recently become a  favorite in my family that features only 4 ingredients: olive oil, garlic, goat cheese and asparagus. The sharpness of the goat cheese and crisp sauteed garlic add enough interest that no other ingredients are needed.  Despite that fact, I can't help but add something. And lately, the thing I want to add (to almost any dish, I was planning to add some to the cornbread I was going to serve with my Sweet potato and black bean chili were it not for the fact that 2 of the guests who I made that meal for are vegetarian...) is BACON. Yes, crispy, salty, fatty bacon. What could be better? And what was I thinking for all those years that I refused to eat bacon?

This dish could easily be made with left over already cooked asparagus and/or bacon, you can add these ingredients in to heat and get a little crisper towards the end of the cook time for the shallots and garlic.

Penne with Goat cheese, Asparagus and Bacon
Serves 4 as a side, or 2 as a meal
Prep time: approx. 15min including pasta cook time
2 1/2 cups whole wheat Penne pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil divided
2 shallots
3 tablespoons soft goat cheese
3 cloves of garlic
10 stalks of asparagus, roasted
6 pieces uncured bacon
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

This dish requires some multitasking- all of the ingredients need about 10-15 minutes to cook, so it is important to start them all near the same time. The asparagus can be roasted in the oven at 350 with a little olive oil, while the water for the pasta should be turned on at the same time the asparagus is put in to roast and the shallots are chopped and sauteed.

 Chop the shallot and start to heat in a small pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat
after the shallots appear translucent, add the garlic, chopped finely to the pan. cover and continue to cook on low heat.

In a separate pan cook the bacon over medium high heat, turning regularly until crispy.When it is done, remove from the pan on to a paper towel covered plate. then roll the paper towel around the bacon to create a bacon cocoon, and then crush with a large object or the palms of your hands. About a tablespoon of the bacon fat can be added to the pan with the shallots and garlic if you are willing- this will make the dish incredibly good- though also incredibly high in fat. If you need to justify this, remember that you are using WHOLE WHEAT PASTA, which means this is practically health food. Yes, works for me.

When the asparagus is done, chop the stalks into 1 inch pieces and mix with the shallots and garlic. add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add to the pasta in a large bowl and mix together the ingredients, adding the goat cheese and crumbled bacon at this time. Add salt and pepper to taste, and an extra drizzle of olive oil if it makes you happy (it makes me happy- just saying...).

1 comment:

  1. When I make the "regular" one here at home, I put the asparagus, chopped into pieces, into the pasta water, timed to be done at the same time as the pasta. And I mix the goat cheese and olive oil (which I added the chopped garlic to in a pan and heated just until the garlic infuses the oil) in the bottom of the dish I'm going to put the pasta and asparagus into. Then I just mix it up and add salt and lots of pepper. My way is easier...but your way sounds like it tastes better!