Pasta with Bacon, Garlic, Chilli and Parsley

pasta with bacon garlic chilli and parsley


We have had masses of building work done over the summer, hence my silence on these pages.  Some days I had a kitchen to use, other days not so much.  Once the Aga was decommissioned I moved onto a two ring gas hob (no oven) and once that was a goner it was braais or picnics.  There have certainly been some stressful moments and I have deposited more money in the swear box than I care to think about.  My poor husband and children have had to put up with a lot of unusual suppers from a rather mad-eyed cook but it was worth it and we now have a fabulous new kitchen.

The thing about being put on the spot kit wise is that it really focuses the mind.  If all the gadgetry has been boxed up (or just covered in dust) and there is only a pan to hand then one must make do.  One such recipe that came into play was this pasta with bacon, garlic, chilli and parsley.  Comprising of store cupboard and garden ingredients this can be reliably whipped up with the minimum of equipment, time or energy.  On one occasion I also added a pile of halved cherry tomatoes because I had some that needed using up.  It is certainly just as good without and I wouldn’t use tasteless winter (or jetset) tomatoes for the sake of it.

I highly recommend making this whether you are enjoying building works or not – it is cheap, very cheerful and everyone, particularly the children love it – what could be better (apart from a new kitchen).

Pasta with bacon, garlic, chilli and parsley

As with many of my recipes this is open to interpretation – if you adore bacon then add more;  if your children can’t bear chilli then leave it out.  The parsley is very much an ingredient here rather than merely a garnish but if the green stuff horrifies your little ones……

6 good fat rashers of smoked streaky bacon

2 large cloves of garlic

1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1/2 bunch parsley

300g pasta of your choice

Olive oil

Get your pasta cooking in a large pan of generously salted water.   Put a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and snip (I find scissors easiest here) the bacon into it.  Cook until just turning crispy then add the garlic and chilli, stir it around over a gentle heat ensuring the garlic doesn’t brown.  When the pasta is done, drain it retaining a little of the cooking water.  Tumble the pasta into the frying pan and mix well with the bacon, garlic and chilli adding a splash or two of cooking water to keep the whole thing quite slippery.  Chop the parsley over the top, season well and serve with parmesan if you like.  This amount is enough for two adults and two children.

Orzo with Bacon, Tomato and Cream Sauce

Orzo with bacon and tomato

This is a winner.  A little girl (aged 3) recently came to stay and when it came to teatime she wasn’t in the mood for any nonsense.  I was fairly confident she would like this as my children adore it, even my son who is absolutely not the first to request pasta, ever.

When  the time came to serve though, I realised I had forgotten the vagaries of young children and must admit, felt a brief tremor of nerves.  Hurrah, it was a huge success and she polished off three helpings much to the panic of my daughter who was eyeing the reducing seconds in the pan with alarm.

So offer this with confidence and not only to children, I make no secret of loving it and am often to be caught sneaking a spoonful or two from the pan before it disappears.

Orzo with Bacon, Tomato and Cream Sauce

Orzo is a rice shaped pasta we have a particular fondness for but use any small shape you like. I keep those little rectangular packs of pancetta in the fridge and along with some small packs of passata in the larder this becomes an almost store cupboard supper.

125g orzo

1 teaspoon olive oil

100g pancetta, pack sizes vary and a little more won’t hurt if that is what you have

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

100g passata

2 tablespoons cream

A few sprigs of parsley, chopped


Cook the orzo according to the packet instructions, probably around 11 minutes.  Meanwhile put the pancetta into a large frying pan with a teaspoon of olive oil and cook until well coloured and crispy in places.  Add the garlic and cook for a minute before adding the passata, stir and cook for a few minutes before adding the cream.   Drain the pasta retaining a little of the cooking water.  Put the pasta into the sauce, stir until combined adding a little of the cooking water if you need it to loosen the sauce.  Grate over some parmesan, add the chopped parsley and serve with more parmesan to hand.  Serves two adults or three children.




Kale, Lentil and Bacon soup


Kale and Lentil soup

Don’t call me a swot but I just love vegetables.  More so than fruit I think and this time of year brings an amazing vibrant selection.  Beautiful and delicious, pretty as a picture and so good to eat.  My vegetable garden is coming to the end of its growing season and just has a few courgettes and late runner beans on offer, but no matter, my wonderful farm shop down the road (Washingpool Farm Shop, near Bridport) is full of earthy seasonal treasures.

So far this week we’ve had Celeriac and Spinach soup, Beetroot and Parsley soup with a little horseradish cream and Cauliflower Cheese.   Ahh, Cauliflower Cheese, shockingly overcooked and watery at school but a thing of pure delight when done well.  Whether you go for a proper béchamel with cheese or the quick creme fraiche with grated cheese route, I love this supper.


Looking back at what we were eating last time it was chilly I found the Late Autumn Salad (November 2012) with earthy roast beetroot and salty crumbly feta.  Another favourite is the Kale, Mushrooms and Chilli on Sourdough Toast, pictured above  (January 2013) which is not only delicious but feels so full of goodness.  To go with a cup of tea you can’t beat Patrick’s Plum Cake (October 2012) squidgy and delicious with almonds and plums.

What I am looking forward to now is Plum Crumble, hot juicy tangy plums with a sweet crunchy blanket of crumble on top, the purple juices seeping up making it sticky and chewy.  Or celeriac remoulade, at once both crunchy and creamy with some lovely air dried Dorset ham – what could be better on a crisp sunny day with perhaps a glass of cold cider on the side…..  Or maybe this Kale, Lentil and Bacon soup.

A super cosy, warming yet fresh and healthy soup if ever there was one. Earthy lentils, verdant good for you kale and a little salty hit of bacon.  So good.  As ever, I feel a splash of dry sherry enhances a veg based soup but it is up to you.  A really cracking result depends on a good stock,  I don’t always make my own (I know, I know) but ensure I buy a top quality one.  I used chicken stock here but you could use a vegetarian one, omit the bacon and make this vegan should you so wish.

Kale, Lentil and Bacon Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped

100g puy lentils

1 litre stock, chicken or vegetable (see introduction)

A splash of dry sherry

A few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

100g kale, chopped

Cook the bacon and onion in the oil until soft.  Add the lentils, give it a good stir then add the sherry.  Let it sizzle briefly, pour in the stock and cook until the lentils are just about done.  Stir in the kale and thyme and cook for a minute or two until the kale is wilted.  Serve with some good crusty bread.  Enough for 3-4 depending if there is anything else for lunch.