Good bacon goes with everything — I have a sneaking suspicion that bacon ice cream would be a hit. (Especially if you paired the bacon with pecans.) When I say “good” bacon, I’m referring to bacon from pastured hogs that snort and snuffle about on an actual farm. You can find this kind of bacon at your farmer’s market, online, or at your favorite well-stocked grocery store. My current easy-to-find favorite bacon comes from Applegate Farms. They also make darned tasty hot dogs, deli meats, and sausages. Eatwild.com has plenty of suggestions for finding pastured animal products at farms in your area.
Aside from improved flavor, better nutrition, and a much more pleasant effect on the environment, one of the big perks of good-quality bacon vs. conventional bacon is that it has not been injected with brine to make it taste better. (It already tastes great!) That means splattering is kept to a minimum when you’re cooking the bacon…and that means you can use the bacon grease to fry and flavor other ingredients. In this case, I chopped up a variety of veggies from my garden and tossed them into the pan with the bacon a minute or two before the bacon was done. Those four strips of bacon were all I needed to have a single-skillet, deliciously-bacon-seasoned dinner!
Summer Pasta with Bacon This recipe serves 2 but can be easily doubled or tripled.
2 servings of whole-grain pasta of your choice (I used Tinkyáda’s tricolor vegetable brown rice spirals)
4 strips of bacon, preferably from pastured hogs
Assorted summer vegetables of your choice (I used 2 small cucumbers, 8 cherry tomatoes, 2 small peppers, and 12 green beans), chopped or sliced*
Fresh basil, thyme, rosemary and/or sage as garnish (optional)
Prepare the pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is al dente, drain it, rinse it with tepid water, and set it aside.
While the pasta is simmering, cook the bacon in a covered skillet over medium heat for about 8 minutes, occasionally turning with tongs. If you’re using good-quality bacon, this shouldn’t be too messy; if you’re using the value-pak variety, you might want to use a very deep pot and long tongs to avoid making a mess out of your stove and burning yourself. Value-pak bacon is also probably going to take longer to cook because it will have more saturated fat than bacon from pastured hogs. (Looking for and buying the good stuff is really, really worth it!)
Add the vegetables and cook for 2 more minutes or until vegetables have softened. Turn off the heat. Stir the drained pasta into the skillet to warm the pasta and mop up the flavorful bacon grease, then serve promptly.
* Other tasty summer vegetables include zucchini, eggplant, corn, and anything else you find in abundance at the farmer’s market, in the produce market, or in your garden.