I'm a sucker for pasta dishes. I could literally eat pasta every day in a different way and be happy about it. Over the years I've accumulated a huge amount of pasta recipes and I'm amazed every time I find yet another pasta dish that I've never made. This dish is no exception. I don't like kale so I substituted spinach instead. I also couldn't find orecchiette in my market so I used small shells and they worked perfectly.
This pasta is simple but packed with flavor. The shells are the perfect shape to hold both the vegetables and the light sauce. Upon reading the recipe I was afraid there wouldn't be much flavor as there isn't much to the sauce, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results. A hint of salty bacon, a drizzle of fresh lemons, and a richness from the Parmesan. It's delicious and filling but doesn't feel heavy. My husband loved this dish and was very disappointed when I took the leftovers to work the next day.
Small Shells with Spinach, Bacon, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (adapted from Cooking Light)
12 oz. small shells (or other short pasta)
4 c. bagged, prewashed spinach
3 slices bacon
⅓ c. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
½ t. red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. black pepper
1 t. salt
3 T. Parmesan cheese
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. butter
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water, and keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Leave 1 teaspoon of bacon drippings in the pan, removing the rest.
4. Add the pasta, reserved pasta water, black pepper, and salt. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring well to combine. Add in the butter and stir until just melted. Remove from heat.
5. Sprinkle the pasta with lemon juice and half of the Parmesan and bacon. Place the pasta on plates and add additional Parmesan and bacon if desired.