Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pasta with Bacon and Breadcrumbs--Three of My Favorite Words & My Bittman Potluck Pick!

A busy week and no time to catalogue all of the "Things I Am Loving This Week"--my usual Tuesday feature. Instead I bring you something completely lovable--Mark Bittman's Pasta with Bacon and Breadcrumbs.

Pasta with Bacon and Breadcrumbs... Lets say it again, this time with feeling...PASTA with BACON and BREADCRUMBS! It is like poetry to the senses, sheer perfection in a bowl. Oh Mark Bittman, how I do love thee and your recipes that are so simple they are genius. Now I am no newcomer to the breadcrumbs as topping phenomenon--I eat it often, (like here and here with pasta, or here with asparagus and the countless times not accounted for on my blog when it tops my quick, go-to, delicious but not pretty to look at meal of canned tuna, lemon, garlic capers and breadcrumbs on pasta). Bittman takes breadcrumbs to a whole new level where not only are they are paired with bacon...but oh wait!...they are crisped and browned in a combination of said bacon's fat, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Yep, it is poetry...bacon-scented poetry, and the fact that it is on the table in about 20 minutes makes it all the better. If it actually makes it to the table and you don't just lean over the pan on the stove, fork in hand and shovel it (delicately of course), into your mouth.

The recipe, my April Potluck choice for I Heart Cooking Clubs can be found in "Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express" on page 151.

Bittman says, "This relies on good breadcrumbs, which mean homemade or panko."

Pasta with Bacon and Breadcrumbs
"Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express"

Boil salted water for pasta and cook it, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Meanwhile, cut bacon into small pieces and fry it in a bit of olive oil until just crisping; remove from the pan and add two or three minced cloves of garlic to the pan; cook over fairly low heat, turning until just fragrant, a couple of minutes. Toss in a cup or so of breadcrumbs and a pinch of red chile flakes; cook, stirring, until the breadcrumbs turn golden (they go fast, so you'll want to watch them). Toss the pasta and the breadcrumb mixture along with the bacon and a little of the reserved liquid. Top with some more olive oil and a bit of chopped parsley or basil.

Notes/Results: Pasta, bacon, breadcrumbs...do I really need to tell you how good this was and why? It is simple genius. I pretty much made it as the recipe stated--with the exception of some extra garlic and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. With so few ingredients, use good ones--a good olive oil, real bacon (I used a nitrate and antibiotic-free thick cut pepper bacon--and loved the extra kick from the pepper), and fresh, flavorful garlic and basil. We can argue the merits of homemade breadcrumbs, which are great, but I firmly believe panko is the way to go here--its feathery ethereal lightness crisps up to perfection.

The right pasta is important too. I received a bag of "radiatore" pasta from Garofalo Pasta to sample and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try it out as radiatore are small pasta shapes that are said to resemble radiators. Their ruffled edges make them work well with thicker sauces and as I learned, breadcrumbs--as they hold the toasted crumbs in between ruffles, giving you a crispy-tender bite. The Garafalo Pasta company has been making pasta for over 200 years and produces 10% of Italy's pasta production. It can be found here in the United States at grocery stores and even Costco on the west coast. The pasta worked well in this dish, holding its shape well and was tender and good. Thanks to Garafalo Pasta for allowing me to try it.

No complaints about this dish at all--it was perfect. (OK, maybe next time I might add some capers to it, but caper-love is just my issue. Trust me even without them, it is still pretty darn perfect!)

You can see what the other IHCC participants are picking for their Potluck dishes by going to the IHCC website here and following the links.

Besides going to IHCC, such pasta goodness must also be shared at Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Cynthia of Kitchen Slave. You'll want to check out the PPN round-up at her blog on Friday for all kinds of yummy pasta creations.

My "Things I Am Loving This Week" feature will be back next Tuesday!


  1. You can never go wrong with bacon. And pasta. And some breadcrumbs never hurt. I already know this was fantastic.

    That pasta shape looks delicious!

  2. Actually...FOUR of my favorite words...pasta, bacon, breadcrumbs & Bittman. Thanks for sharing a great post, and great dish with Presto Pasta Nights.

  3. I haven't chosen my potluck recipe for this week and I may have to copy you! This looks delicious Deb:D I've never had pasta with breadcrumbs before, but my guess is that this is the way to try it! I love the pasta you used, perfect for holding in all those bits of goodness.

  4. I love the idea of breadcrumbs as a topping, but they haven't yet made it into my rotation. And with bacon! Yum!

  5. I love the addition of breadcrumbs to the pasta, yum!

  6. This is my idea of heaven on a plate! Totally delicious. Comforting. Joyful.

  7. this looks just wonderful....really really good!!!

  8. This sounds really good. I think I'll try it sometime soon.

  9. Deb, this looks amazing! I love the breadcrumb and pasta combo and seeing the radiatore pasta really made me smile, that was one of my favorite shapes while growing up (we had pasta often) and I haven't had it in years. Will be on the lookout for it now.

    Beautiful presentation, would make any pasta lover drool :)

  10. wow....and yum! pasta, bacon and bread all in one recipe! this sounds fantastic! "staring" this recipe for sure

  11. I am so making this - this week! I know I'm hardly the first person to feel this way, but I really think I could be a vegetarian but for the bacon. And recipes like this are exactly the reason why. It looks delicious!

  12. We can say it again...bacon and breadcrumbs! Nice texture addition for pasta!

  13. Kat--you mean I didn't even have to throw in bacon?! ;-)

    Joanne--yep, it's pretty perfect!

    Ruth--yes, Bittman is another favorite word of mine too. ;-)

    Kim--go for it--you must try pasta with breadcrumbs, it is so good!

    Foodycat--you should really add in into the rotation, it's pretty yummy. ;-)

    Natasha--thanks! ;-)

    Reeni--I knew my fellow breadcrumb fan would like it! ;-)


    Andreas--I hope you try it--it is really good! ;-)

    Andrea--thanks! The radiatore was pretty fun! ;-)

    Danielle--thanks! It is really good--hope you make it!

    Cathy--mahalo--I agree, the bacon gets me every time! Hope you enjoy it! ;-)

    Duo--keep saying it! ;-) It's worth it.

  14. what more can a good bowl of pasta asks for with breadcrumbs and bacon? great job!

  15. This sounds thoroughly delicious. I'll have to try this soon. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  16. This looks like such an interesting recipe! I never would have thought to add breadcrumbs to pasta. Of course everything tastes amazing with bacon! Thanks for submitting to Presto Pasta Nights!

  17. This combo literally has me drooling! I'm with you. I'd probably just eat it right out of the pan. I'm not sure I could manage "delicately" ! LOL!

  18. I have never heard of the bread crumb craze... maybe because I've been trying to avoid bread? Your pasta sounds great though, very tempting ;) Using the bacon fat for cooking always adds so much flavour.

    Thanks for the Mark Bittman reminder, I will share something this week.

  19. This looks like a great pasta recipe! I like the idea of adding bread crumbs, and of course the smokey bacon flavor doesn't hurt. Radiatore is a great pasta shape, it catches more of the yummy sauce!

  20. Wow. I ama BIG pasta fan and this is....da bomb!

  21. I've made a similar dish with prosciutto instead of bacon, but I am a firm believer that everything is better with bacon, and I think I'm going to need to steal this recipe and make this over the weekend!

  22. I don't have any of his cookbooks, but really enjoy watching the little videos he does for the NY Times on his site. He's got some good cooking tips, like making breadcrumbs with your bits of left-over loaves, and of course, everything goes better with bacon. Nice combination of flavors.

  23. Deb, this looks sensational - I love the combo of pasta and breadcrumbs. I often do a dish with pasta, cauliflower, capers & breadcrumbs, which is a favourite - but this .... as you say it's genius. Not just breadcrumbs, but panko breadcrumbs, and not just panko breadcrumbs but cooked in the bacon fat!! It almost makes me weep for all the times I have missed out on that - why have I never thought of that before?! Love those little "radiator" pasta shapes you used as well.

  24. The pasta looks great!
    Going to try that recipe soon...

  25. This recipe is definitely on my "to do" list.

  26. Wow, that looks great. I've never used bread crumbs with pasta before. Bacon is the perfect compliment to any food so I'm sure it was lovely in this one!

  27. Bacon makes the world go round - who doesn't love bacon?

  28. Rebecca--thanks! ;-)

    Daphne--there isn't much more you can ask for! ;-)

    Mary--thanks, i hope you like it too! ;-)

    Cynthia--thank you for hosting PPN this week! ;-)

    Kathleen--I wasn't very delicate either! lol!

    Zibi--This is one way to enjoy a little bread for sure! ;-)

    Christine--yes, it hold more sauce or breadcrumbs!

    Pierce--thanks! ;-)

    Rachel--steal away--hope you like it! ;-)

    Claudia--thanks! I hope you come join us--plenty of Bittman recipes online. ;-)

    Sue--thank you! It truly is simple genius! ;-)

    Yvette--thank you--I hope you like it!

    Country Cook--mahalo! Hope you like it!

    Melissa--you MUST try pasta and breadcrumbs, it is so good! ;-)

    Jenny--Bacon is the food of the Gods! ;-)

  29. i can't imagine how it feels, it is certainly very delicous and tempting.
    so yummy of course


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