I had to make a quick weeknight meal last night, so I made some pasta for the boys, and sauteed zucchini “pasta” for me. I saw this recipe on the NY Times site, and it sounded intriguing. It’s just zucchini slices made with a vegetable peeler sauteed in olive oil until al dente and seasoned with salt. It really makes a wonderful foil for a creamy rich sauce, and I think it’s more flavorful than regular pasta. I saved the cores of the two zucchini and will steam them and throw them in a soup later in the week.
I knew I wanted a rich, creamy sauce (I had extra ricotta on hand), so I made up one inspired by this Cooking Light Alfredo with Bacon recipe. I altered it by adding the ricotta, nutmeg, a mix of part skim plain mozzarella and whole milk smoky mozzarella to bring out the smokiness of the bacon, and some leftover artichoke hearts I had that needed to be used!
It was a perfect marriage of flavors and my boys loved it (always a good indicator for a recipe I can use in the future!)
Pasta with Ricotta Cream Sauce and Bacon
½ lb. pasta (spaghetti or fettucine works well) and 1/2 recipe of zucchini pasta
or 1 lb. pasta or one full recipe of zucchini pasta
2 slices of hickory smoked bacon, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon flour
1 ½ cup milk (whole or 2% would probably be best, but I used skim!)
¾ cup ricotta (5 oz.)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup grated mozzarella (I used a combination of regular and smoky)
2 canned artichoke hearts, chopped (could probably use more, but that’s all I had)
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Freshly crushed black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season water with salt and cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve about ¼ cup cooking water and drain pasta. Or make zucchini pasta.
- While pasta is cooking make sauce. Cook bacon in a large skillet until browned. Remove to a paper lined plate to drain.
- Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to pan depending on how much bacon grease is left. I hardly had any so I had to add oil. Saute chopped onion and garlic until softened. Sprinkle flour on top and brown quickly in pan. Then whisk in milk gradually to create a sauce. Add ricotta and whisk until smooth. Then add parmesan and mozzarella and artichoke hearts. Stir to combine. Season with kosher salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Add cooked pasta to skillet and toss to coat. Add bacon and stir. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.