This is how to make a really sexy pasta with a handful of bacon and a can of crushed tomato. It’s a 15 minute meal, lends itself to adding veggies and you can pat yourself on the back, knowing that you’ve just made a pasta the proper Italian way!
There is one secret to making pasta that makes all the difference: tossing the pasta in the sauce with a splash of the pasta cooking water on the stove. This thickens the sauce, making it stick to every strand of pasta so it all ends up in your mouth rather than a watery pool in the bottom of the pasta bowl.
And this is the way Italians have been making pasta ever since the dawn of time.
If you’ve been reading RecipeTin Eats for a while, you’ve probably read that before. And you might be sick of hearing me say it. But until it becomes the “standard” way to make pasta all over the world, I’m going to keep saying it!!
In all honesty, when I come across a recipe for a gorgeous slow cooked ragu that’s been simmered for hours on the stove, then I see it dumped straight over pasta sitting in a bowl, I want to cry. It’s almost criminal!
Toss the pasta in the sauce with a splash of starchy pasta cooking water. Toss, toss, toss! It emulsifies* the pasta sauce – no matter what type of pasta sauce you’ve made – and watch as all that sauce and all that flavour ends up sticking to every strand of pasta. <—- And you can actually watch it in the recipe video below. ❤️
* This is what happens when the fat in the pasta sauce is mixed with the starch in the pasta cooking water, it causes the sauce to thicken and become sticky so it clings to the pasta rather than sitting in the bottom of the bowl.
This is a really quick recipe, making it a fabulous one for a busy weeknight. Especially if you’re feeling exceptionally lazy as I often am and you purchase pre-diced bacon. Sometimes it’s on special and it’s the same price as bacon slices, then I get a bunch of small portions (150 – 200g each) and pop them in the freezer. Super handy to have on hand.
So – a handful of bacon, a can of tomato, olive oil, garlic and pasta. That’s really all you need for this recipe. And if you don’t have bacon, ham would be a fabulous alternative. Or chorizo. Or sausage. Anything that can be sautéed that has flavour in it because it’s the flavour base for the sauce of this pasta. And the order of steps too – you’ll see in the recipe video. 🙂 – Nagi xx
You're just 15 minutes away from this sexy pasta with a handful of bacon and a can of crushed tomato. The key step is tossing the cooked pasta with the sauce and a splash of pasta cooking water - this emulsifies (thickens) the sauce so it clings to the pasta rather than sitting in a watery pool at the bottom of your pasta bowl. Recipe video is below. Scale recipe by hovering cursor over Servings (see Note 2).
- 160 g / 5 oz spaghetti or other long strand pasta of choice
- 1 tsp olive oil (or butter)
- 150 - 180 g / 5 - 6 oz bacon , diced
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 1/2 onion , finely diced (brown, white, yellow)
- 400 g / 14 oz canned crushed tomato
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of sugar , if needed (Note 1)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Finely chopped parsley
Have the ingredients lined up and ready to start cooking at the same time.
Bring a large pot of water to the bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Cook pasta according to packet but MINUS 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add bacon and cook for 1 minute, then add garlic and onion and cook for 3 minutes or until onion is translucent and bacon is golden. Drain excess fat if desired.
Scoop out a mug of pasta cooking water, then pour about 1/2 cup into the skillet. Bring to simmer and stir, scraping the skillet to dissolve in all the golden bits stuck on the pan into the liquid.
Add tomato, bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes, then turn down to medium high.
Drain pasta, or if you timed it right, use tongs to transfer it straight from the pot into the skillet.
Toss gently using two wooden spoons for 2 minutes, or until the sauce is no longer sitting in the skillet, it's all on the pasta (see video). If it gets too thick, just add an extra splash of the pasta cooking water.
Season with salt and pepper (remember bacon is salty!).
Serve immediately, garnished with parmesan, parsley and final drizzle of olive oil if desired.
1. SUGAR: The sweetness and flavour of canned tomatoes is affected by the quality of the brand. Better value canned tomatoes can be a touch sour. To take the edge off, add a pinch of sugar.
2. I allow 80g / 2.5 oz pasta per person (uncooked weight), which is a generous bowl. This makes enough sauce for up to 100g / 3.5oz pasta per person. If you SCALE the recipe (hover over servings), just make sure you use a giant skillet to handle all the pasta. Tip: A large wok is brilliant for making a double batch in one go.
3. Nutrition per serving. The calories can be reduced by about 100 calories by using turkey bacon, ham or lean bacon.
Bacon Tomato Pasta recipe video! Note the order of steps – start the saute with bacon, then add onion and garlic, then deglaze the skillet with pasta water (I do this specifically – to ensure I get all the flavour off the base of the skillet) before adding tomato. Also notice how when the pasta first goes in, there’s loads of sauce in the skillet but by the end, it’s all on the pasta!
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