I initially chose this recipe its name. Anything with BLT in the title will win me over. As I looked more closely at the directions, though, I was puzzled. Cook croutons, bacon, onions, and pasta separately; combine with Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, uncooked spinach, and boiling water?! I’d never made anything quite like this – either adding cold spinach to a hot dish, or, as the final step, dumping a cup of water over a meal. I’m sure both are common practices, but as a novice cook, I was wary.
The ingredient list won me over, though, and thank goodness it did. It was INCREDIBLE. My husband had thirds. (Those are his hands holding one of his three bowls below. He’s trying to be a hand model… if anyone wants to hire him, give me a call. Just kidding.)
adapted from Cook’s Country
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 slices hearty or artisan bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 12 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound pasta (small shape)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 bunch spinach
- 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. While the water comes to a boil, cook the chopped bacon in the empty skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat. Cook the onion in the bacon fat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- After you begin cooking the onion, add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1½ cups cooking water. Drain pasta and return to pot. Stir in tomatoes, arugula, Parmesan, bacon, onion mixture, and 1 cup reserved pasta water (adding additional water as needed). Season with salt and pepper and top with croutons.