Pasta with Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pancetta

Healthy and light ... two words not usually used to describe pasta dishes.  But this delicious pasta with spinach (or broccoli), sun-dried tomatoes, and pancetta uses just enough of bacon and cheese to give you the biggest bang for your buck.  That's right ... lower calories and fat without sacrificing taste and the pleasure you feel after enjoying a good steaming bowl of pasta.

As my Italian friends' moms would say whenever I'd come into their house ... sit down! Mangia!

Only now you can do it guilt free. :)

Ingredients:

  • 12 Oz Gemelli or Fusilli Pasta
  • Pasta with Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pancetta

    Pasta with Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pancetta

  • 2 Cups Chopped Spinach or Broccoli
  • 1/2 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Diced (Not packed in oil.)
  • 1 Tbs Pine Nuts
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbs Breadcrumbs (Plain or Parmesan)
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 4 Oz Pancetta (Italian Bacon) Cut Into Thin Strips
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Red or Green Jalapeno Pepper, Thinly Sliced (Remove the seeds!)
  • 4 Tbs Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package until just al dente (most likely about 10 minutes).
  2. Add the spinach or broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally another 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the pasta and veggies, reserving about a cup of the pasta water. (If you accidentally dump it all out like I did the first time, don't worry.  Regular water will work just fine, even if the pasta water is preferred.)  Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, toast the pine nut over medium-high heat, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the breadcrumbs, and a bit of pepper to taste.
  5. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a little dish, set aside, and wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.
  7. Add the pancetta to the skillet and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and blot until dry.
  9. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, and then add the garlic and jalepeno and cook until fragrant and the garlic begins to brown very slightly, about 1 minute.
  10. Add the drained pasta to the skillet still containing the jalapeno and garlic, along with the pancetta, and toss, drizzling in enough pasta water to moisten if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with the breadcrumb mixture and parmesan.