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Bacon & Arugula Pasta

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Bacon & Arugula Pasta

INGREDIENTS:

3-4 strips of applewood smoked bacon (thick-cut slices, if available)

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup sweet onion, diced

Optional: Dried red pepper flakes, a few shakes

1 14.5-ounce can of whole tomatoes, hand crushed

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 16-ounce box of dried pasta (you might not need all of it - I used about 3/4 of the box)

1 generous handful (about 1 cup) arugula, washed and dried


INSTRUCTIONS:

Boil just enough water to cover the pasta by an inch or so (you'll want to save the nice and starchy pasta water for the sauce later). Salt it and cook the pasta according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, cut the bacon slices into 1/2-inch strips. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.

Render the fat from the bacon pieces, stirring periodically to brown both sides of each piece.

When the bacon is sufficiently browned but not quite shriveled to a crisp, add the garlic and onion and red pepper flakes, if using. 

Saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  

Depending on the size and shape of your pasta, this will be about the time when you'll need to -- RESERVING the pasta water -- drain (and rinse, if you have to) and set it aside. 

Hold onto the pasta water, at least a cup or two of it.

Crush the tomatoes by hand if using whole tomatoes.

Add the crushed tomatoes and about a ladle or two's worth of pasta water. Lower the heat and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes to cook down and thicken.

If needed, sprinkle in a bit of granulated sugar at this point, not more than a teaspoon, to balance the acidity. Add the dried herbs and continue to simmer..

Stir the sauce periodically, adding more pasta water as needed. The sauce should resemble a spaghetti sauce but preferably a bit less viscous.

Add about half to two-thirds of the pasta. Stir well. Add more pasta water or pasta or both until you've hit a ratio of evenly coated, tomato-y pasta.

Just before serving, pile on the arugula and mix in, letting the steam from the hot pasta wilt the leaves.

Sprinkle on freshly cracked black pepper and serve.


YIELDS: 4 servings