I haven’t been too exciting in the kitchen recently. Lots of late dinners. I’m not a fan of late dinners but Josh has been super busy and I like to wait for him to eat. It’s the least I can do when he supports our household. So it’s been easy cooking. Nothing glamorous or blog-worthy. I got off the hook for Thanksgiving, joining a celebration outside of our home. It’s been the first time in years doing so and it felt great. For once I wasn’t responsible for cooking majority of the food and hosting. My contribution was cranberries, one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving spread. It was definitely a scene, Cia’s first Thanksgiving, one we will be talking about for years. The story isn’t to be shared but the year ‘off’ has already motivated me for a nice Thanksgiving at home next year. Sometimes I need a little break from the normal routine to re-inspire myself. After some lazy days in the kitchen it seems I am ready to get creative.
Normally I have a few meals planned out and then go to the grocery store for the ingredients. It makes things easier and quicker. And let me tell you, I’m all about easy when it comes to grocery shopping with Cia. She’s amazing and rarely fusses but everything takes a lot longer toting her around. I wear her instead of sticking her in a cart. Only because I can leave the cart behind and maneuver easier. But of course I have 18+ pounds strapped to the front of me. In the end I do prefer this method. So this past Saturday early evening I decided to make a grocery run just Cia and I. I had no plan or thoughts for meals. Sometimes it’s fun to let the produce inspire you, and after planning meals for months I think I’ll be a bit more spontaneous these days. I bought ingredients for a rutabaga and adzuki bean soup, mushroom fried rice, and fennel lardon pasta. I have no idea where the inspiration came for these meals but I loved it. Cooking them was much more enjoyable. I was cooking on a whim with no master plan.
The rutabaga adzuki bean soup was simple and delicious. Nothing fancy – cubed rutabaga, a can of beans, snow peas, mushrooms, carrots, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, dried dill, white pepper, and chicken base. Easy, earthy, healthy, and delicious. Cia enjoyed eating it too! I didn’t take any pictures though, another super late dinner, but the concept is easy for recreating.
Now for the the pasta dish. Originally I was going to bake off the bacon first. It’s a non-messy way and I like the outcome. But then I thought of lardons. I love crispy pieces of bacon. It’s something I don’t eat often but when I do it adds amazing flavor to any dish. My favorite is a simple salad with a poached egg and lardons. Yum! So I made lardons with the 4 slices of thick peppercorn bacon I bought from the Whole Foods deli case. Once cooked I set the bacon aside. I am not a huge bacon grease fan. I’m sure most people think this is crazy but it’s true, so I discarded 3/4 of the fat. I used the last bit to cook the onions and fennel. Nothing fancy but plenty of flavor. I also added in smoked paprika for a little extra oomph. Then I tossed in a box of gluten free pasta, fresh kumato tomatoes, fresh parsley, pecorino romano, fresh ground pepper, and the lardons. Good eats!
Fennel & Lardon Pasta
- 4 slices thick cut bacon
- olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large fennel bulb. sliced into strips
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 2 kumato tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh grated pecorino romano + more to serve
- box gluten free pasta
- Make the lardons. Slice the bacon into 1/4″ strips. Don’t stack the bacon more than two pieces thick while doing this to prevent sticking. Heat a large saucepan up over medium heat. Add the bacon and a drizzle of olive oil. Spread the bacon into a single layer and let cook for 7-10 minutes. Stir and continue cooking stirring every minute or so until all the fat has rendered from the bacon. About another 5 minutes. Scoop out bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Meanwhile put up a pot of water to cook the pasta. Once boiling cook according to the box. If using gluten free pasta, rinse once cooked to eliminate any gumminess. I always cook my pasta just al dente since it cooks a bit more when reheated.
- Over medium-high heat using 1/4-1/2 the bacon fat add the onion. Sauté a few minutes and add the fennel. Cook for 8-10 minutes until tender crisp. Season with pepper and smoked paprika.
- Stir in the pasta and heat through.
- Toss in the parsley, tomatoes, pecorino romano, and lardons.
- Serve with a bit more fresh grated pecorino romano.