Thursday, 22 January 2015

Artichoke & Bacon Pasta bake

I can't even begin to tell you how delicious this is. I almost passed out when eating it. That good.

I've been dreaming of this combination for a while, and was a little shocked that no one else has done it, so I thought I'd give it a go. This is one of those extraordinary times when total experimentation pays off. The richness of the bacon and artichokes is beautifully balanced by the light lemony crème fraîche. 

If you liked this artichoke dip, you're going to cry over how much you love this pasta bake. Feel free to yell from rooftops.

Artichoke heart & bacon pasta bake, with crispy garlic and rosemary sourdough crumbs

Quantities: Serves 4

Timings: 45 mins

Kitchen Stuff: High sided baking tray

300g Paccheri pasta (really large tubes)
4 rashers smoked back bacon, cut into strips
1 tin drained artichoke hearts (240g drained weight), quartered
60g parmesan, grated
Zest of half a large lemon (or most of a small lemon)
200g crème fraîche (I used half fat yeo valley - brilliant)
1 slice old sourdough
A couple of sprigs of rosemary
1 bulb roasted garlic (or 2 cloves raw garlic)
Rapeseed oil or olive oil


Fill the kettle and boil. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees.

BACON: Heat a little oil in a heavy based saucepan and fry the bacon until starting to crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen towel on a plate to absorb any excess fat.

ARTICHOKES: Add a little more oil to the bacon pan and add a few cloves of roasted garlic (or one pressed clove of raw garlic - careful not to burn). Smush the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Add the quartered artichoke hearts to the garlic oil and fry until they are a little browned, a few minutes. Turn off the heat. 

PASTA: In a large pan of salted water, boil your pasta until al dente (still has a nice bite to it, not too soft). When you drain the pasta, keep some pasta water aside. 

CREAMY SAUCE: Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix most of the grated parmesan (50g) with the crème fraîche, 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add ore seasoning/lemon zest as appropriate.

GARLIC & ROSEMARY OIL: You will need to make some garlic and rosemary oil for your crispy crumbs. 

Add a couple of tablespoons of oil to a measuring jug and add a few cloves of roasted garlic (or one pressed clove of raw garlic), some chopped rosemary and a few whole sprigs. Mix together with a fork until combined. Add one teaspoon of this mixture to the creamy sauce and mix it in. Tear your slice of bread into small pieces and add to the oil, mix until the oil and garlic has been absorbed. 

TOGETHER NOW: Drain your pasta, keeping aside one cup of pasta water, and return the pasta to the large pan. Mix the creamy sauce into the pasta, adding a tablespoon or two of pasta water to loosen the sauce. Stir in the bacon and artichokes. Transfer to your baking dish, sprinkle on the remaining parmesan and scatter on your garlic and rosemary crumbs with a few extra sprigs of rosemary.

BAKE: Bake for 15 minutes or until your pasta is bubbling and your crispy crumbs are golden brown and crispy. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn.