Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pasta with Sweet Peppers and Canadian Bacon

So first of all, last night we tested out the grill with some pork chops and a very basic marinade. Paired with steamed fresh snap and snow peas and some leftover pasta salad, it was delish. I now want to grill all the time, but I'm not sure if I can persuade the boy. We will have to see. I'm totally willing to do the grilling, but I'm not sure if his man-pride will allow it. We shall see.

But back to the real story. Tonight's dinner was a re-attempt at a recipe that I had marked "Good" for it's general flavor, but was rather unexciting: "Pasta with Sweet Peppers and Ham." I love pasta and peppers and, while not a big ham eater, was willing to take the plunge, esp. since the fiancé likes ham. But the original attempt was rather bland. I am now able to attribute that to, of all things, the ham that I used. I originally bought "Diced ham in water" which sounded about as close as I could get to "boiled ham, diced" without going out and buying a ham steak, boiling it, and actually dicing it up myself. Needless to say, the ham was pretty blah so it did nothing to enhance the flavor of the dish, leaving it sorely lacking. This time, a fortuitous lack of "Diced ham in water" at my ever stockless local grocery, caused me to purchase canadian bacon as a subsitute. I thought that it might spice up the flavor, while still being of the same general consistency and, at least, animal.

I think it was what really made the dish (that and me going a little crazy on the red pepper and adding a dash of garlic salt). The bacon brought a nice smokiness to the dish that made me wish for more by the end. The peppers and onions added a delicious sweetness that paired very nicely with the saltiness of the pork. The red pepper flakes gave it that extra kick. Next time I think I'll cut back a little on the pepper, but definitely go for the canadian bacon again. Though I'm sure good leftover ham steak would work as well. Just go for the good stuff.

This is really quick and easy--you can prepare the sauce in the same time that it takes for the pasta to cook so it's all done together. Huzzah!

Pasta with Sweet Peppers and Canadian Bacon
from Prevention's Ultimate Quick & Healthy Cookbook (with obvious modifications)
Serves 2

1 tsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
a dash of garlic salt!
3 oz canadian bacon (or other good ham), diced
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 lb penne pasta
1 oz parmesan cheese
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
black pepper (to taste)

1) Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid, drain pasta, and place in serving bowl.
2) Meanwhile in a medium sauce pan, warm oil until very hot but not smoking. Add bell pepper, onions, garlic, oregano, garlic salt, and red pepper flakes. Sauté, stirring, for 2 -3 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften and relase their juices. Add canadian bacon and sauté until the bacon begins to brown. Add 2 tablespoons of broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 8 - 9 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender (I found this took a little longer). If the pan gets too dry, add another tablespoon of broth.
3) Add remaining broth and reserved liquid to the mixture. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes, until liquid is reduced slightly.
4) Pour sauce over pasta. Add parmesan, parsley, and black pepper. Toss to coat well and serve!

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