Pasta with Garlic, Tomatoes, Spinach, & Bacon

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Though we try to stick to a weekly meal plan, it doesn’t always happen. Once we get to the point where vegetables are about to go bad, I typically make one of two things: fried rice or some sort of pasta dish. Both of which are super easy and come together very quickly.

This pasta dish is very forgiving and can be made with so many different variations. Don’t have bacon? Prosciutto or ham would work, too. Want to go vegetarian? I think white beans or chickpeas go perfectly with pasta. Or skip the protein all together. Still yum.

Not a fan of spinach? Arugula is actually my preferred green with pasta. Don’t have tomatoes? Use what you have or whatever sounds delicious to you. The only constant in this dish: pasta, garlic, olive oil, and some sort of hard cheese like parmesan reggiano or asiago. You have a lot of flexibility to make this dish truly your own. Use whatever you have on hand as long as it sounds delicious to you.

I think what makes this dish truly special is slowly cooking the garlic in extra virgin olive oil for about 30 minutes. Yep, 30 minutes – that’s not a typo. 😉 You want to be lower than a simmer. You’ll end up with this super soft, sweet and fragrant garlic and this incredibly delicious garlic infused olive oil which really is the heart of this dish.

Ingredients

  • 1/4c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, pressed or smashed and finely chopped
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2c tomatoes, diced (I used grape tomatoes, halved)
  • 8-10 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1/4c asiago cheese, shredded plus more for serving
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 4-5c baby spinach
  • 1.5lbs or about 18oz of pasta (ideally, fresh)

Directions

  • In a large skillet, combine olive oil, garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper. Turn heat on low – below and simmer – and slowly warm up the olive oil & garlic. The goal: to infuse the olive oil with garlic – no browning. This process should take about 30min
  • Still on low heat, add tomatoes until warmed thru and season with salt & pepper. At this point, the garlic should be browning slightly:IMG_4125
  • In the mean time, cook pasta to package instructions
  • Add cooked bacon to skillet and turn heat off.
  • Add hot pasta, asiago cheese, and oregano & basil and toss well
  • Add a couple tablespoons of pasta water to thicken the sauce, if needed
  • Add spinach and toss well
  • Season with salt & pepper to taste
  • Serve with additional cheese

Additional Notes

I prefer adding greens at the very end of the process to avoid cooking them down too much and keeping them somewhat whole like this:

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If you prefer your greens more wilted, add them prior to adding the pasta to the skillet.

Enjoy! 🙂

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