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A touch of bacon flavors a pasta dish

(ran SP ST TP editions)

If you believe that bacon is bad for your health, you are both right and wrong. Eating bacon every morning for breakfast can elevate the amount of fat in your diet, possibly contributing to heart disease, cancer or stroke, but using a few pieces in a recipe adds surprisingly little fat, especially considering that bacon has a delicious, smoky flavor that no other food can imitate.

This recipe for Creamy Linguini with Bacon and Peas contains five strips of bacon and shatters the myth that, if you are counting fat grams, you must forever forgo cured pork and creamy pasta. Each serving of Creamy Linguini with Bacon and Peas contains 304 calories and 8.5 grams of fat, or just 25 percent of calories from fat. In comparison, a baked 4-ounce chicken breast with skin has 232 calories and 8.8 grams of fat.

The creamy sauce is thickened with evaporated skim milk and a basic cooked flour-and-oil mixture called a roux. Traditional recipes for roux call for equal amounts of flour and oil, but this one uses just a drop of oil. To make sure the sauce is lump free, add the evaporated skim milk and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a gentle boil.

Creamy Linguini with Bacon and Peas

8 ounces uncooked wide linguini

5 pieces bacon, cut into pieces

1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, crushed through a press (1 teaspoon)

1{ cups sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon flour

{ teaspoon salt

{ teaspoon dried basil leaves

[ teaspoon white pepper

[ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 12-ounce can evaporated skim milk

1 cup frozen peas

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions. When tender, drain thoroughly and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet until crisp and brown. Remove the bacon to paper towels and blot thoroughly. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the grease. (You may discard all the bacon grease and substitute 1 tablespoon olive or corn oil in its place.) Cook the onion, garlic and mushrooms in the grease or oil until the vegetables are soft and slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the skillet and set aside.

In a small dish, combine the flour, salt, basil, white pepper and nutmeg. Add the 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the oil and stir with a wire whisk or a slotted spoon for 1 minute until the flour is slightly toasted in the oil. Pour the evaporated skim milk into the skillet, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming. (If lumps form, don't worry, just keep stirring.) Cook until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.

Stir the bacon and vegetables into the sauce, then add the peas, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Cook over low heat 2-3 minutes, then stir in the cooked pasta. If sauce is too thick, thin with 1-2 tablespoons of water or regular skim milk.

Makes 5 servings. Nutritional information per serving: 304 calories, 8.5 gm. fat (25 percent of calories from fat), 12 gm. protein, 46 gm. carbohydrate, 6 mg. cholesterol, 338 mg. sodium.