What a success this one proved to be! Mind you, I don't know why I'm sounding surprised because it uses three of my favourite things - bacon, mushrooms and Asda's ricotta & red pepper pesto. To my way of thinking, it was a winner before I even took my knife to the bacon. However, sometimes what seems like the perfect combination of ingredients turns out to leave a little to be desired in one way or another - but happily, not so here. Plus, of course, it has the added bonus of being simplicity itself to prepare.
Oh and as a little aside, have you noticed how often my food seems to turn out to be orange coloured? I don't try to make it that way, honest I don't, it seems as though my choice of ingredients has a marked lean towards the orange. But then, the menfolk grumble if there's too much green on the plate, grumble again if I serve them "brown food" and would justifiably grumble at being served black food, so aside from white I guess that just leaves the red/yellow/orange palette as there's not too many blue foods out there! So this one is following along in the tradition of being the seemingly man-friendly colour of orange.
Now, let me recommend to you Asda's little pot of Ricotta & Red Pepper pesto. This seemingly unassuming little jar contains one of the most delicious substances that I have used in everything from sandwiches to pasta. Along with the rich ricotta and flavoursome red pepper, it also has a sneaky little bite from red chilli that just makes it glorious. I would be very happy if you were all to rush out and buy some, love it and continue buying it, as that would mean it will stay around on the shelves for ever!
The pesto marries up with bacon perfectly, of course. The celery adds a welcome freshness that prevents the dish from becoming too heavy on the palate and the addition of the small amount of sour cream helps to loosen the pesto into a sauce without impinging on the flavour at all.
I call this one a very definite win. The empty bowls and enquiries as to whether there was any left, gave proof to that belief, too. As a mid-week, easy, relatively cheap dinner, you can't go wrong.
BACON WITH RED PEPPER PESTO PASTA (serves 3)
1 tbsp olive oil
350g smoked back bacon, trimmed of fat and diced
1 large onion, diced finely
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
2 sticks of celery, diced finely
half a tsp dried oregano
200g quartered mushrooms
190g jar red pepper & ricotta pesto
1 tbsp sour cream
250g dried pasta shapes - tubes are good.
Heat the olive oil in a large deep sided frying pan and add the bacon. Fry over a high heat until all the moisture has evaporated and the bacon is cooked through.
Reduce the heat to moderate and add the onion, garlic and celery, along with a pinch of black pepper and the oregano. Fry until the onion is transparent and the celery is beginning to soften.
Add the mushrooms and continue to fry until they are beginning to soften.
Three quarters fill a large saucepan with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and once boiling, add the dried pasta. Remember to give the pasta a stir every so often to ensure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or to manufacturer's instructions.
Add the contents of the pesto jar to the bacon mix, along with 100ml of water (you can use it to rinse out the pesto jar, so as to get every last little bit!) and stir to combine.
Once the ingredients are looking mixed, stir in the sour cream. Simmer on a very low heat until the pasta is ready. You may need to add a little more water from time to time to keep the mixture saucy.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it well and return it to the hot saucepan. Take the bacon mixture and decant it on top of the pasta and stir gently, but thoroughly, through.
Serve in warmed bowls with some garlic bread to accompany.