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Thursday, 25 November 2010

A Staple: Pasta, Bacon and Artichoke

There's something immensely satisfying about making a really good dinner out of whatever you happen to have in the fridge and the cupboards. So, sometimes, I cheat, and make sure I have certain things lurking in the fridge, behind the jam, or in the cupboards behind one of Matt's 700 odd jars of Marmite (why one is not enough I will never know, not being a follower of the Marmitian faith.)

The items in question are jars of sundried tomatoes, and artichokes marinated in olive oil. Now, I'm aware that these would hardly be considered a staple food by many, but they are absolutely integral to one of my favourite dishes. This is a recipe of my mum's. It's really very easy, and it was probably (not counting the endless Victoria sponges and lumpy bread rolls I brought home from G.C.S.E food tech lessons) one of the first things I learned to cook.

When I left home to go to uni, I wasn't exactly a foodie, and could quite happily subsist on a banana, a couple of biscuits and a quarter of a packet of ready-made stuffed pasta a day (this was supplemented by about 1200 cups of tea. I'm surprised I wasn't found sticking to the ceiling in a weightless, over-caffeinated coma).

However, whenever I had people coming over for dinner, I would almost invariably bust out this recipe, and it was, almost invariably, a success.

Nowadays, it's a reliable fall back, and something we still throw together regularly.  It's both salty and zesty, creamy and meaty, with a sauce that coats the pasta so it's nice and glossy, without feeling too soggy. One day, I will make my own pasta to go with it, but until my dreams of a shiny pasta machine come true, dried penne or fusilli is plenty good enough. When it's freezing outside, and there's an evening full of comfortable sofa and mindless TV ahead, this dish is the perfect accompaniment.

Mummy Jen's Simple Pasta Supper
Serves 2


3 rashers of smoked bacon, cut into bitesized pieces
1 tsp olive oil
4 or 5 sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped (the oil itself has a lovely flavour, so don't drain them too much before adding them to the pan)
4 largish artichoke chunks in oil, chopped (as above)
1 small glass dry white wine
2 tbsps single cream
a handful of torn basil leaves
125g dried fusilli or penne


  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan.
  2. Add the bacon and fry until beginning to brown at the edges - keep stirring.
  3. Add the chopped sundried tomatoes and artichoke and stir in.
  4. Put the pasta in a saucepan, cover with water, salt generously and bring to the boil.
  5. Add the white wine to the frying pan and turn the heat down so it's simmering, not bubbling too violently.
  6. Wait until the pasta is just on the crunchy side of al dente (6 or 7 minutes), then add the cream to the frying pan and stir it in. 
  7. Leave for 2 mins, by which time the pasta should be done.
  8. Drain pasta and amalgamate into bacony saucy pan. Stir it well.
  9. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle over the basil leaves, then serve.


  1. you forgot the pine nuts :)

  2. Mmm, this is delicious. I had never knowingly eaten an artichoke before in my life, so this dish is a revelation.

    Have made it a couple of times now, forgot to get cream the first time but it was ok with just the spicy oils. With cream and wine, even yummier.

    Readers note, the above recipe serves ONE! :-)