BRING IT, Cooking Light.
Yesterday I made a recipe from their June 2007 issue: Penne with Asparagus, Spinach, and Bacon, and it was lacking, to say the least. Besides being boring as all hell, I really think that recipe might be missing a step. Careful readers (following the link above), will notice that after sauteing the onions in bacon grease and adding asparagus that you add a whopping CUP AND A HALF of chicken broth. Sure, some of that broth boils away when you're cooking the asparagus, but unless you're planning on cooking that asparagus until it doesn't resemble the succulent vegetable that it once was, by the time it's ready to go you're going to have a whole hell of a lot of liquid left and nothing to do with it. Does it all just get dumped on your pasta? Poured out - which would be stupid because it has all that great flavor from the bacon and the veggies??? WHERE does it GO?!?!?! Also, as is frequently the case, this Cooking Light recipe doesn't have nearly the quantity of bacon I wish it did. Here's my modified version of this dish, which I affectionately call "Piles of Pasta in Bacon Gravy," or, for those of you who don't eat pork (this would still work with turkey bacon fyi, and still be delicious!!!!!): "Cooking Light, I've Officially Outdone You." Oh yeah, and this recipe allowed me to break in my new knife. (Review of the knife forthcoming...)
8 oz. uncooked penne pasta (or whatever. I used fusilli because I had it on hand.)
5 bacon slices (or turkey bacon!!!!!) (instead of the measly 2 slices in CL)
1/2 c. chopped onion!
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. black pepper
2 1/2 c. 1-inch slices asparagus (about 1 lb.)
1/4 c. dry vermouth
3/4 c. chicken broth (I use the low-sodium Trader Joe's variety - note that this is HALF the broth CL calls for.)
4 c. baby spinach leaves
1 T. unbleached white flour
2 oz. shredded parmesan cheese (WHY oh WHY would they tell you to get pre-shredded parmesan? What a ripoff. Just buy a microplane!!!)
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Cook bacon in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat until crisp. (CL calls for non-stick - this recipe just screams for the flavor of cast iron, if you ask me.) Remove bacon from pan; crumble.
Add onion, salt, and pepper to drippings in pan; saute 1 minute until just tender. (You could pour out some of the bacon grease if you feel there is too much. Trust your instincts here!)
Add asparagus to pan and saute for about 30 seconds. Add vermouth and cook for about a minute more. Add the broth.
Bring to a boil and cook until asparagus is crisp-tender.
Add flour and stir vigorously into the broth mixture, amidst the vegetables until sauce thickens. (Unlike the CL recipe, you are USING all the liquid and making it into something thick and tasty with this flour!)
Toss spinach until coated with sauce and turn off heat, continuing to toss until spinach is just wilted, but not cooked to death.
Plate pasta, cover in veggies and sauce, sprinkle with crumbled bacon, add more salt and pepper if desired, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Serves 2 if you eat like me, or 4 if you eat like a regular person.
BRING IT, Cooking Light.