Lemon-Mint Pasta with Bacon

Ken is guest-writing today.  Call it my “Welcome to Third Trimester” free pass.  And I don’t love pasta… Without further ado..  Here’s Ken…

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As the JG has discussed, we recently went on her “babymoon” to Antigua, where she posted on the trip and the food. One food/drink element that she didn’t include was a refreshing rehydration drink we concocted and proceeded to have about 10 of a day: seltzer water with crushed mint and a splash of cranberry juice.  Given her pregnancy and the heat, I was militant about her staying hydrated.  And the drinks we discovered were our go-to for three days straight.

We have been enjoying these drinks since we got back to New York, but as with all herbs, a fresh batch of mint is about 10X what you can actually casually use before it goes bad (pet peeve).  In an attempt to use up the rest of our fresh mint, we threw together a super-easy and quick dish: Lemon-Mint Pasta with Bacon.

The ingredients:

* 1 lb. pasta – We used organic whole wheat spaghetti. Not a huge fan of the whole wheat thing, but the JG is uber-healthy.  And she doesn’t love pasta. So we used whole wheat pasta, something we could both equally, slightly complain about.  Definition: “marital compromise”.

* 1/2 cup of washed and loosely torn mint leaves (no stems).  Pack them in pretty tight.  Mint is a key ingredient here so you don’t want to undermint.

* 4 tbsp. of lemon juice

* 3 tbsp. of lemon zest – I thought we had every random piece of cooking gear imaginable, but we didn’t have a zester.  So I used a peeler and then diced the peels.  All good (pics below).

* 5 oz ounces of grated Parmesan cheese

* 5 strips of bacon, chopped into bacon bits

* 1 generous tablespoon of olive oil

* 1 tbsp of butter

* Red pepper flakes (optional)

Steps:

* Cook the bacon

I never thought I would cook bacon in anything besides a frying pan. But the JG has converted me to a "bacon baker". It is definitely easier to clean up, and you don't burn yourself with splatters of hot liquid magma, which I guess is good. Usually we cook bacon in the oven, but if we are just cooking a few pieces, I find our mini toaster unit much more efficient.

Bacon bits

Be sure not to overcook your bacon. I am never shy about letting some bacon grease "accidentally spill" into whatever I am cooking. But don't tell anyone (especially my wife).

* Zest the lemons.  If you have a zester, this is easy.  If you don’t, it’s also easy.  You can just use a potato peeler and dice, as we did below.

Peel lemon zest with a potato peeler

Lemon zest after dicing. (A real chef would have diced these more. I am not a real chef.)

* Mix the mint (save some for individual garnish), grated cheese (save some for individual garnish), lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil into a bowl.

Before

After

* Cook the pasta “al dente”, drain, and add a generous tbsp of butter and a generous amount of salt.

* Mix buttered, salted pasta in with the contents of the bowl.  Add bacon.

Serving bowl

* Garnish individual servings GENEROUSLY with additional cheese, leftover mint, and red pepper flakes (optional).  This is a pretty simple dish, so you need to make sure you aren’t skimping on cheese (and salt), or it could come out bland.  Serve!

Extra garnish on individual servings is key for this simple dish, which runs the risk of being bland otherwise.

Super easy.  Not exactly an “invite people over for dinner” dish, but definitely a good, quick, easy meal.

Positives: Very easy. Only one pot/pan to clean (and that is just boiled pasta water, which almost means it’s not really dirty).  Uber-healthy.

Negatives: Uber-healthy.  There is a version of this dish that I had once that involved a lemon/mint cream-based sauce.  Maybe next time.

Until next week.. Enjoy!

-The Josie Girl’s hubby.


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11 Comments

    • The sparkling water with crushed mint and a splash of cranberry was a good discovery.. thanks!

    • Thanks! First time i have ever been complimented on my zest. Much appreciated!

  1. This looks amazing! You should enter your recipe in a contest.. you are bound to win!

  2. Bacon is a cured meat prepared from a pig. It is first cured using large quantities of salt, either in a brine or in a dry packing; the result is fresh bacon (also known as green bacon). Fresh bacon may then be further dried for weeks or months in cold air, or it may be boiled or smoked. Fresh and dried bacon is typically cooked before eating. Boiled bacon is ready to eat, as is some smoked bacon, but may be cooked further before eating.`

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