Penne with Asparagus, Bacon and Ricotta

Asparagus, ricotta cheese, bacon and pasta. What happens when you add them all together? Creamy, deliciousness. With asparagus and goat ricotta cheese staring at me from inside the fridge, I immediately thought they would go great together mixed with pasta and bacon. My idea was to cook the bacon and then add the asparagus, but then realized the asparagus might not get tender enough. I took to the internet to see if there were any good ideas.

The first recipe that popped up was a penne pasta dish with asparagus and ricotta. Perfect. I just needed to add bacon to make this dish even better. As the saying goes, everything is better with bacon. The recipe calls for a quick blanching of the asparagus followed by a nice ice bath to stop the cooking process. I cooked the bacon and then added the already cooked asparagus and cooked pasta to get that bacon fat mixed in. Why waste a good thing?

Meanwhile, in bowl, the recipe from Simply Recipes tells you to mix pasta waster and ricotta together, along with some olive oil. This was a pretty great idea and really gets the ricotta cheese to mix well when you add the pasta and asparagus. Overall, this ended up being gobbled up by both myself and the Vegetarian (Yes, she ate the bacon, and no, bacon is not a meat. It’s bacon).

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes
serves 4

6-8 strips bacon, cut into 1/4″ inch pieces
1 pound thick asparagus, woody ends trimmed
10 ounces penne pasta
1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed
8 ounces goat ricotta cheese (or regular ricotta)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat large skillet over medium-low heat. When hot, add bacon and cook until crisp, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. (You will cook both the asparagus and the pasta in the same pot of water.) Add a couple teaspoons of salt. Have an ice bath ready. Add the asparagus and cook until tender but firm, about 4 minutes. Remove the asparagus with tongs and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking. Cut the asparagus into 1/8-inch diagonal slices, leaving the tips intact. Set aside.

Bring the water back to a boil and add the penne pasta. Cook until al dente (or as you prefer).

While the penne is cooking, rub the inside of a large serving bowl with the mashed garlic. Discard the garlic. Add the ricotta, olive oil, and 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Mix together in the bowl. When the pasta is done, drain it, reserving some of the cooking water.

When pasta is nearly cooked, add asparagus to pan with bacon. Drain pasta and add to pan as well. Mix well to incorporate the bacon, fat, asparagus and penne pasta. Add the penne, bacon and asparagus to the ricotta mixture. Add Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add additional reserved pasta water if too thick.

Serve immediately with any additional Parmesan cheese you may require. Enjoy!!

About Evan Halperin

I like to eat. I like to cook. I like to eat what I cook. Now, I will share with you what I like to cook. My wife and I may be a vegetarian and a carnivore, but it doesn’t mean we can’t cook a nice meal with both, without compromising taste. I will share my creative meals of the Carnivore and the Vegetarian.
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