Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Penne with bacon, spinach and cheese

It seems only fair that if I'm posting photos of all this lovely food, then you should be able to have the recipes. Now, there are two kinds of cooks in this world: measurers and estimators. We fall into the estimator category, so if that's you then you'll be able to follow this recipe easily.

100g pasta penne per person
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large bag of fresh spinach leaves
A few handfuls of smoked, diced bacon
A fistful of blue cheese or any other cheese you like (grated or crumbled)
Salt and pepper
250g of crème fraiche
1 teaspoon of whole grain mustard

Chop the onion and the clove of garlic. Soften in a little olive oil (about a tablespoon at most) and fry until they are soft. Don't burn the onion or the garlic so keep the heat low. In the meantime, put some well-salted water onto boil. Now chop some bacon. You can use back bacon or if you can get lardoons or those nice little cubes of Italian smoked ham, then that will be fine. A handful or two will be enough for two people. Put the bacon in the pan with the onion and garlic and just cook it so that it goes a little crispy but without burning the onions. Throw in a pinch of mixed herbs, some freshly ground black pepper and any other flavour that takes your fancy.

Next take a 250g tub of creme fraiche (or you can use thick greek yogurt or some such substitute) and tip it into a bowl and add a nice big teaspoon of whole grain mustard. By now you will have poured your dried pasta penne into the boiling water. Allow about 100g per person (dry weight) and it should take about 9 minutes to cook. Read the pack instructions if you’re not sure. Turn the heat down so the pasta isn’t bubbling furiously, just a rolling boil will be fine.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and then tip a large bag of fresh spinach into the saucepan. The heat of the pasta will wilt the spinach in a minute or two. Stir to spread the spinach evenly. Now drop in some crumbled or grated blue cheese (St Agur is perfect) or use cheddar or any other cheese you like, if blue isn’t for you. Stir it into the pasta so it melts. Now add the onions and bacon and give it all another stir. Return to a medium heat and add the crème fraiche and stir it all in and make sure the whole dish is hot.

This is a rough-and-ready dish so adjust amounts to suit taste, hunger and personal preferences. Serve straight onto warm plates or put it into a big pasta dish if you want to serve it at table with a bit of elegance. Serve with a salad and a nice, robust red. Australian cabernet would be perfect.


  1. mwahhhhhhhh TM and a big hug to Mrs TM.... thanks

  2. Thanks heaps for the recipe. Off to get some spinach tomorrow, and a good cheese (to suit the blue cheese phobe in the house)

    Onward and upward TM :)

  3. Thanks Mrs XTM. I shall try this as a variation on my own recipe which includes spring onions and mushrooms instead of the spinach. As to the blue cheese: I had a blue cheese phobe in the house but she once heated up some leftover pasta with blue cheese without realising.... and demolised the lot. So it may just be in the mind. You don't know until you try.

  4. YUM!
    We make a similar dish to this on a regular basis as it is nutritious and fast! Not with spinach tho! Must add that next time! YUM!

    Hope you are having a good day today! I had to resort to the heavy duty pain killers last night for my knee and I had forgotten how much havoc they can play with my stomach! OUCH! YUCK! No wonder the hospital food really was inedible for you!

    Hope Mrs XTM is happy for you to continue sharing her recipies with us all? It is really nice to read.

    Take care and get the physio done!

  5. Ouch, Nurse. I do sympathise. Today I have a swollen right foot and a searing pain under my cast on what I presume is my fracture site. Real pain drains every drop of energy from you, doesn't it?

    By the way, I wrote up the recipe with Mrs XTM's permission so if there are any mistakes it's my fault. More recipes will appear soon.

  6. A swollen RIGHT foot? Strange. As for the searing pain I hope to goodness nothing is going wrong. Are they going to whip you in for an X-ray I wonder ..

    Incidentally, what are the circs re having follow up treatment - have you got to go trudging back to the secret Centre of Excellence or can you go local? It would be just horrendous if you had to slog it, particularly as it's so far away. Your GP will hopefully have been sent your discharge letter with all the gory details by now although as orthopaedics is generally so busy I wonder ..

    That's a fab recipe by the way and I can see me adapting it for those of us who prefer our meat to remain on the animal .. hehe! A bit of quorn chopped up would be good, marinaded in something suitable. I reckon you should throw a dinner party in the summer for all your blog followers - can you seat about 20,000? We could all bring a chair of course but we may have to rent Wembley.

    Keep those orbicularis oris muscles in an upward mode and hang on in there. Let us know what's behind the pain ..

    Toodle pip :-)

  7. It would mean going back to the centre of excellence. The GP and local hospital are relieved to have me off their hands. They're much happier signing passports, selling vaccines and doing medicals for life insurance companies. GPs don't seem to like getting their hands dirty with difficult cases.

    Me? Cynical?

  8. Thank you!

    I saw this original post and it inspired me. I work as a wine/gourmet food guide and today I acquired blue cheese, a lovely Shiraz and bacon from a home reared pig that I have an interest in. Consolidating the rest of the ingredients (I grow the greenery myself) made me happy. Alas, nobody was home tonight to appreciate the resultant experience so I didn't make it.

    But I will. Tomorrow; I will eat all of it if I have no company to help.

  9. Yuuuuum!! Never thought of using creme fraiche as a sauce! My can of soup and piece of toast for lunch doesn't seem half as tasty now!

    Glad you're well enough to post again - it seems like a constant rollercoaster for you, but I'm sure being back home is helping immensely.

    Big thanks to Mrs XTM for her recipe!

  10. I share your cynical attitude towards GPs. Mine charges £25 to countersign a passport picture (and mis-spelt the name on the first form) but gave the wrong advice to my husband for his medication, resulting in much heartbreak. For £80K a year or thereabouts, you'd think they would do better, wouldn't you?

  11. Of course there are good GPs but their pay is more like £120k a year.

  12. Good afternoon ETM!

    Glad that you are able to post again - would have been rather bored otherwise (and we don't want that - can get expensive if I start shopping!).

    Big storm in London last night so all three cats were scared and slept on top of their dad's legs - he then woke up with cramp and everyone jumped! Nothing compared to your pain of course but my cats are sharing, caring creatures ........ hmmm! Hope that Whisky was not bothered by the wind/rain etc.

    Best wishes and looking forward to tonight's recipe!

    Cats' Mother

  13. If not familiar already check out 'Bad Science' by Ben Goldacre I think he writes in the Guardian and is also a GP It will give you something nourishing other than food for your convalescence.

    Glad your feeling brighter and as we woman know, whatever the question the answer is always chocolate and sometimes in my case cheese

  14. Nope. Sorry. I can't allow this. This recipe needs bringing up to NHS standards at once & therefore the following amendments must be made immediately:
    1. Replace spinach with peas.
    2. Replace blue cheese with two Dairylea triangles.
    3. Replace bacon/lardons with wafer-thin processed ham (and not too much of it, either).
    4. Omit onion, herbs, garlic, creme fraiche and seasoning.
    5. Boil pasta for AT LEAST 25 mins until mush.
    6. Drop whole thing on floor half way through the mixing-together process.
    7. Scoop back up again and leave to cool for 3 hours
    8. Find a coal shovel and use to dish out portions to trapped patients.

    I think you'll find with just these few tweaks this recipe could easily be adopted by the NHS and endured by millions of patients on a monotonous rotation basis.

    Keep up the good work, Mrs XTM - we're always thrilled to get recipe suggestions which we can then work on and improve to meet the high standards of the NHS.

    Gloria S

  15. thanks so much for recipe - looks like Mrs XTM is a brilliant cook - tasty, quick and no faffing around - can't be doing with all the little fiddley measurements that the most of the published cooks use.

    i have a wonderful omlette recipe - beat however many eggs you fancy - cut spring onions into eggs and cut chilli into eggs - fry - delicious, easy, get high on the chilli - what could be better?


  16. I see Mrs TM never weighs ingredients out same as me..... good cooks rely on instinct and skill, I have not used scales since years and everything turns out great.

    Thank you so much for adding the ingredients for the recipes, I can see I will be chained to the stove and even print them out to add to my collection, I love cooking and trying out different things.


  17. Gloria made me laugh....what a great idea

  18. Leave out the bacon for the vego's -- maybe replace with swish brown mushrooms..yummmm, thanks!!
    Trace, Oz

  19. Yummy! Maybe you can add some peas ;-)
    Too bad my partner doesn't like cheese (he hates it actually). Thanks for the recipe.