Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Creamy Bacon and Spinach Rigatoni

I love a simple dish with a little something special.  This is such an easy weeknight dinner, with the smoky flavor of bacon, the bright color and fresh bite of spinach and a creamy sauce that is surprisingly simple.  I prefer to use regular spinach, not the baby spinach sold in the salad section, which I find really ticky to cut into pieces and remove stems.  I love the big, hearty tunnels of rigatoni, but any tubular pasta will work.

Creamy Spinach and Bacon Rigatoni

1 pound rigatoni pasta

6 strips of bacon

1 bunch of fresh spinach leaves

Clove of garlic, minced

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta

Salt and pepper

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup of grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the rigatoni according to the instructions on the package.

While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, cut the bacon into small pieces and cook it in a large sauté pan on high heat until crispy.  Meanwhile, rinse the spinach leaves, leaving a bit of water clinging to them. Remove the stems and roughly chop the leaves into manageable pieces.  They don’t need to be miniscule, but you don’t want long strands in the finished dish.

When the bacon is crispy, remove it with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Reduce the heat to medium and give the bacon grease a couple of minutes to cool down.  Add the garlic and cook for just a minute before dropping in the spinach.  Be careful as the water from the spinach will cause some spitting.  Stir to coat it all in the oil, cover the pan and cook for about three minutes until the spinach is bright green and wilted.  Add the ricotta and stir until it is smooth and creamy.  Generously salt and pepper the dish, and stir in the nutmeg.

Your pasta should be ready by now.  Dip out 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the rigatoni in a colander.  Add the rigatoni to the ricotta sauce and stir to coat well. Drop in the bacon pieces and add about ½ cup of the pasta water and stir to loosen up the sauce and coat the pasta.  Use more pasta water if you need Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top.

Serves 6



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