One day I looked in the fridge and found bacon, arugula and fresh basil. I already had tomatoes in a bowl on the counter. And I thought, "Wait a minute. This is a BLT. What if I put it all together?" I did, and the result was a splendidly tender pasta with a lightly acidic tomato-wine sauce that went perfectly with the smoky bacon, peppery arugula and sweet basil.
Technique tip: This is another time I like to sauté my bacon instead of using the oven. It keeps all those yummy hot bacon drippings right in the pan.
Swap option: This is easily adaptable to whatever you have on hand, like spinach and linguine instead of the arugula and spaghetti.
- 12 cups water
- 1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 pounds plum tomatoes (about 10 tomatoes)
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti
- 4 cups fresh baby arugula
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- Grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1. Bring the water and 1/4 cup of the salt to a boil in a large saucepan over high. Hull the stems from the tomatoes. Cut a shallow "x" through the skin on the bottom of each tomato.
2. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water, and boil about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes, and submerge in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Reserve the salted water in the saucepan.
3. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin using a paring knife. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise; squeeze out and discard the seeds. Chop the tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces.
4. Place the bacon in a cold large skillet; cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 10 to 13 minutes. Drain the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings in the skillet.
5. Add the onion to the hot drippings in the skillet; cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the wine; cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, black pepper, crushed red pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 5 minutes.
6. Return the reserved salted water in the saucepan to a boil; add the spaghetti, and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to the tomato mixture in the skillet; toss to coat. Add more cooking water, if necessary, until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.
7. Transfer to a large bowl; toss with arugula and half of the chopped bacon. Divide evenly among 4 serving bowls; top evenly with the basil, remaining chopped bacon and Parmesan.