There are many ways to face the winter doldrums. You know, that time when there is a lull in season and activities. The bang of New Year has passed, and winter lays ahead, blustery, chilly and gray. Call it the post-holiday blues. Or, more optimistically, call it a clean slate. It’s all good. A little down time is healthy for us, offering a window to focus inward and reflect. It’s a priceless moment of stillness before the year accelerates in its usual fashion. Enjoy that moment and its simple pleasures. Listen to the silence of the snowfall, brew a pot of tea, walk the dog. And when you’re cooking, be sure to include bacon. Bacon always helps.
Spaghetti with Bacon and Arugula
12 ounces applewood smoked bacon, cut in 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound perciatelli or spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese
3 cups arugula, washed and dried
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté until fat is rendered and bacon is golden brown. Transfer with slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Discard all but one tablespoon fat. Add breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Sauté until breadcrumbs are golden. Transfer to a small bowl.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente; drain. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl.
While pasta is cooking, add one tablespoon olive oil to a clean skillet or saucepan. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add cream and simmer until slightly reduced and thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the cream. Pour cream over pasta. Add bacon, arugula and half of the cheese. Toss to combine. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and remaining cheese over pasta and briefly toss. Serve immediately.