Pasta la vista, baby

Pasta is the meal of choice for all three of my kids if I ask them what they would like for dinner. I guess it’s the same for many households across the country – and it’s quick, easy to prepare, and, if not covered with a creamy sauce or loads of cheese, pretty healthy, too. This sort-of-sauce is a bit different from the usual bolognaise, tomato and basil, pesto or carbonara that we normally have. I wanted something with a real kick, and lots of texture and crunch, but which still allowed the pasta to be the star ingredient.  It’s made of bacon, garlic, parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley and lots of dried chilli, pan fried until really crispy and tossed through the cooked pasta. It might seem very pared back for those who are used to lots of sauce with their pasta, but I love the way really good quality pasta tastes and it is so often lost when it is swimming in oceans of creamy sauce.  So try this for something a bit different. Get the best quality pasta that you can afford and serve it with a peppery rocket salad like this one, and a glass of pinot gris for a satisfying dinner. And when people ask you what it is – use the accent.

Serves 4

400g spaghetti (best quality that you can afford)
100g bacon, finely diced
1 handful fresh parsley
1 chewy bread roll
30g parmesan cheese
21/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon (or more if you like things really hot) dried chilli flakes
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/3 cup tomato passata

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, season lightly with salt and cook the pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, in a food processor, process all the other ingredients, except for the olive oil, until they are finely chopped and well combined. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan and tumble in the breadcrumb mixture. Stir gently and cook until it is crispy and golden, about 5 – 6 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, drain well and then toss through the breadcrumb mixture, the tomato passata and the last bit of the olive oil. Serve straight away.