Simple Elegant Pasta

Bacon, tomatoes and capers make a fine topping for an easy meal at sea.

Simple, Elegant Pasta
This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. You can use any long pasta, such as angel hair or linguine, large shells or even gnocchi (one of my favorites). Be cautious if you add salt to this dish — I don’t think it needs additional salt because there’s plenty in the bacon, capers, and Parmesan, but it’s up to you! To make this even easier, you can cook the spaghetti in advance, but be sure to reserve at least 1/2 cup of the pasta water for your sauce. —H.F.Lynda Morris Childress

Aboard Kate, our Newport 41, I only plan menus when we're making a passage, or if my partner, Steve, and I are having guests for dinner. Daily meals are much more off the cuff. One recent evening, as the sun was setting and stomachs were rumbling, I realized I didn't even have a vague idea what we'd have for dinner. This would definitely be a quick-fire challenge.

I grabbed a packet of spaghetti: easy, but a sauce would require inspiration. I began by sautéing some onions in oil. As the galley filled with that sweet, familiar aroma, I foraged for more ingredients. There were a few slices of bacon in the fridge; it would add a smoky element to the sauce. Garlic, we had. Though we hadn’t seen fresh tomatoes in months, I had a large jar of sun-dried tomatoes — they’d do. To counterbalance the bacon, I decided to add the last of our jar of salty capers, then to add a bit of zing with a few chili flakes. I got busy, and a short time later, plated it up and presented my creation. The quick-fire-challenge creation was a winner! The flavors of the ingredients complemented each other perfectly, and better yet, cleanup was a snap. This simple but elegant pasta, so quick and easy, has turned into one of our favorite go-to meals.

Pasta with bacon, sun-dried tomatoes and capers

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil**
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped coarsely
  • 2 tablespoons capers (or to taste)
  • Pinch dried chili flakes
  • Pepper, to taste (optional)
  • Salt, to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

**For added flavor, use some oil from the sun-dried tomato jar

Prep your ingredients. Boil water in a large pot and add spaghetti. While it cooks, place a large, heavy saute pan on medium-high heat. Add olive/sun-dried tomato oil. When oil is heated, add onion and saute until just translucent, then add bacon and saute until it just begins to brown. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds more. Stir frequently, loosening stray bits from the pan to prevent burning. Add sun-dried tomatoes and stir. If pan seems dry, add a bit more oil. When pasta is almost al dente, add capers and a pinch of chili flakes to the sauce; saute for one to two minutes. Using a ladle, carefully add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pasta water to the sauce to deglaze the pan and loosen it slightly. Drain pasta and add to the saute pan with the sauce. Toss well to coat and mix ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and chili flakes on the side, along with a good red wine. Makes two servings.

Preparation:

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Can Be Made: At anchor
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes