I mentioned recently how solo parenting, among other things, was messing with my kitchen motivation. It’s kind of embarrassing to acknowledge that sometimes, much of the thrill of cooking is about audience reaction. When the audience, worn out from preschool and the prospect of no dad at dinner yet again, saves her most enthusiastic response for a box of Annie’s Mac and Cheese (imported by the management at colossal hassle to the invaluable crew across the Pacific), is it any wonder I’m going for the quick and easy options at the moment?
Pasta with sauteed zucchini and bacon
If you have a few minutes earlier in the day, chop the zucchini, sprinkle it with coarse salt, and leave it to drain in a colander (see photo). Rinse and shake well before using. It’s not essential but it speeds up the cooking time and intensifies the flavor of the zucchini. The angel hair pasta isn’t essential either, but it cooks in two minutes. What more could you want when you’re trying to get dinner on the table?
2-4 pieces bacon, chopped into small pieces
4 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut in chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
250g/8oz angel hair pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
Lots of grated pecorino romano or parmigiano reggiano cheese
1. Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.
2. In a large frying pan, cook the bacon on medium heat, stirring regularly. When it starts to crisp and render fat, add the zucchini. Continue stirring regularly, but let the zucchini rest for a few minutes at a time to get brown. If it starts to look done and the water hasn’t boiled yet, turn the heat down to low and keep stirring.
3. When the water boils, add a good handful of salt, and then the pasta.
4. While the pasta is cooking, add the minced garlic to the bacon and zucchini and stir again.
5. Before draining the pasta, take out about half a cup of the cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta and return to the hot pan.
6. Drizzle olive oil over the hot pasta and toss—this is so it won’t clump. Throw some black pepper and cheese on too.
7. Add the bacon/zucchini/garlic mixture, and more pepper and cheese to taste. Also pour in a few splashes of the pasta cooking water to bring everything together. Keep tossing.
8 Serve immediately, with more black pepper and cheese at the table.
Served 1 adult and 1 child with ample leftovers.