Pasta is an incredible thing. I love that there are a million ways to make the same type of pasta taste quite different. I could eat pasta every day. I could live in Italy and eat homemade pasta for every meal. But neither of those options is reasonable. When I have pasta, it’s almost a treat, meaning I like it to be worth it. I’m always looking for a delicious way to make pasta worth it: tasty and not overly difficult (as pasta is often a great quick meal option). This pasta dish is a simple recipe packed with vegetables, making this particular “treat” both nutritious and pretty.
This is bucatini with shredded broccoli, crispy bacon and lemon. Bucatini, also known as “perciatelli,” is a thin straw-like pasta with a hole that runs through the center. The name “bucatini” comes from the Italian work “buco” which simply means “hole”. Bucatini is made from durum wheat flour and water and is common in Italy, in particularly in Rome–which is where I first had it years ago. You do not need to be Italian to know that the shape and size of pasta can influence the taste of a dish. But bucatini is a variety that works well with a number of different sauces, and it is substantial enough to hold up even with the addition of a protein. Because bucatini is a slightly stronger pasta, it can easily handle the broccoli and bacon flavors and I think still comes through as a great, not too heavy pasta dish.
In this recipe, I use broccoli, which is a favorite vegetable for my family, in an almost pesto-style way. I use a box grater to grate the raw broccoli which, like cauliflower rice, can cut down on cooking time substantially. I add similar pesto flavoring agents like fresh Asiago cheese, garlic, pine nuts, and parsley as well as a hint of lemon juice and lemon zest to keep this dish tasting light and fresh. In all honestly, I could stop right there as these are some of my favorite flavors. But I have kids. So, as a nod to them, I added some crispy bacon and used a bit of the bacon oil to flavor this dish even more.
Bucatini Pasta With Shredded Broccoli, Crispy Bacon And Lemon
- 4 slices thick cut Sunday bacon
- 12 ounces bucatini pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 yellow onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 cups grated broccoli florets
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 3/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup Asiago cheese, finely grated
- Step 1 Cook the bacon until crispy and reserve the fat. Set aside.
- Step 2 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Add the pasta and cook per the package instructions. Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
- Step 3 Place a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the reserved bacon fat and 1 tablespoon olive oil. When hot, but not smoking, add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Step 4 Add the grated broccoli to the onion mixture. Add the salt, pepper and pine nuts and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1-2 minutes.
- Step 5 Remove from the heat and add the cooked pasta. Toss gently to coat. Add the parsley, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook for a few minutes longer to blend.
- Step 6 Add the Asiago cheese and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Mix well to incorporate and serve hot.
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