Baked Summer Ratatouille
One of the first local recipes we made for the Oregon Food Bank's Eat Local Challenge!
I love me some food magazines (we either subscribe to 3 or 4… I can’t remember), but I especially love them when they feature a bunch of delicious new pasta recipes like this month’s Bon Appetit. This issue was in our house for approximately two days before we decided to make this delicious pasta.
This is the perfect blend of a nuanced pasta punctuated with an occasional savory bite of bacon. It’s a little salty, and a little cheesy – it’s a lot like a macaroni and cheese, except the sauce is velvety smooth. Good work, Bon Appetit, we will be making this again (though we adapted it just a bit).
Just a word before we get started… don’t fear the oil/butter/cream. It is your friend.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
12 ounces of pasta
Start by prepping the ingredients in the sauce before you cook the pasta. Heat the oil and butter in the biggest skillet you own, and cook the bacon in it. Start the pasta water. When the bacon is cooked but not crispy, add the leeks and coarse salt, and cook for another 5 or so minutes until the leeks are near done. This is also when you want to begin to cook the pasta. Meanwhile, the bacon will be getting close to crispy and that is OK.
Next, add the cream and thyme to the skillet and simmer until the cream reduces by about a third. Drain the cooked pasta (don’t forget to save the water) and add the pasta right into the skillet. Toss to coat with the cream sauce, and then slowly add the starchy pasta water and Parmesan.
Carefully toss again to coat, and reduce the sauce until you are happy with its consistency. Serve immediately with a little extra cheese and a very heavy dose of freshly grated black pepper.
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