Bacon Ranch Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes

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Mr. Prevention and I in CostCo is a very scary thing.

When we were in Chicago the trip before last, Mr. Prevention ventured out for a break from “family time” and made his way to CostCo. He returned with a ton of light bulbs which he proudly announced were some insanely low price.

This impressed my father…a man who is ALWAYS up for a good deal. (For you long-time readers, remember when he bought the corned beef hash from the dollar store and tried convincing me that it was so economically savvy of him to do so?)

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So on our most recent trip to Chicago, we hit up CostCo again because our membership expires this month. While Mr. Prevention was perusing the light bulb section (again), even though our stock is bountiful, I headed straight for produce. And seafood. CostCo carries some awesome seafood!

Knowing that I had several spinach recipes on my menu the week following Thanksgiving (that being no coincidence, folks), I purchased a huge, 2.2 pound (that would be 1 kilogram) bag of baby spinach.

I had every intention of making Green Monster smoothies in the morning, but with my terrible habit of running late, that never happened. But I am proud to report that my 2.2 pounds of spinach was nearly all gone, especially after this recipe.

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I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for-ev-er. Since bacon was also a steal at CostCo, I stocked up for our last hoorah before our membership had come to an end.

I used half and half in place of cream, as well as whole wheat pasta. The spinach is packed in this and adds great color, texture, and of course, nutrition. For a meal under 450 calories (for a VERY generous portion!) you’ll think you just hit the jackpot. The best part is, this reheats beautifully.

Don’t make the mistake I made – don’t halve the recipe!

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Bacon Ranch Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes adapted from Simple Gourmet Cooking, Sweet Beginnings, originally from Taste of Home Cooking

1 lb dry whole wheat penne pasta 1/2 lb (~8 pieces) bacon 1 tsp dried parsley 3/4 tsp ground black pepper 1 tsp seasoned salt 1/2 tsp garlic powder 1/4 tsp onion powder 1/8 tsp dried thyme 1 Tbsp olive oil 4 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 onion, diced 2 cups half and half 6 oz baby spinach 1 (14.5 oz) can no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained 1/2 cup (2 oz) Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil; add pasta. Cook pasta 10-14 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Cook bacon by layering the slices between a stack of paper towels and microwaving on high in 1-2 minute increments. After several minutes of microwaving, check every 15-20 seconds to be sure the bacon does not burn. Continue cooking until bacon is crisp. Allow to cool, then crumble.

In a small bowl, combine parsley, pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and thyme.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Add garlic and saute 30-60 seconds, until fragrant. Add tomatoes, saute 1 minute. Add half and half and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and add seasoning mixture; stir. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until slightly thickened and reduced.

Add the spinach to the skillet and stir to encourage wilting. Once wilted, add the pasta and toss to combine. Add half of the bacon, reserving the rest for topping. Serve hot.

Yield: 7 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each)

Nutrition Information (per serving): 441 calories; 17.4 g. fat; 39 mg. cholesterol; 654 mg. sodium; 50.6 g. carbohydrate; 6.1 g. fiber; 18.6 g. protein

Result:  This was really good! I regretted halving the recipe as there wasn’t but 1 serving leftover, so I posted the recipe in its entirety above. Just be sure you use a LARGE skillet (a pot would be fine, to0). The spice combination works so well (don’t forget the black pepper!) and I love the tomatoes and spinach in this. I was amazed at how well this reheated — I actually think I preferred it as leftovers after the half and half mixture had time to seep into the pasta. Delicious!

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December 5th…seriously? Hard to believe…especially given the spring-like weather! I guess the only think I’m looking forward to as the days pass by is 12/8 when my cell is due for an upgrade and I have my eye on the Droid Razr Maxx HD — I heard the battery life is as good as they say…maybe even better. Any feedback on that phone? :)

Be well,

Comments

  1. says

    I’m so glad you liked this! It’s the one and only recipe I’ve ever created on my own (I’m much better at following or only slightly modifying recipes). I love your healthy changes. :)

  2. Vanessa says

    I actually just got that phone and I love it! The battery is as awesome as they say..I use it quite a lot throughout the day for navigation/texting/browsing and it stayed charged for 48hrs..pretty awesome!

    Yummy recipe too!! :)

  3. Emilee says

    My husband and I have the Droid Razr Maxx and we like them a lot. The only thing is to make sure you get a really sturdy case. If dropped at a certain angle, the screen will crack into a million spiderwebs and it is a $140 repair. Mine is fine, but my husband abuses his phone a little more and that happened to him. An Otterbox type case should do the trick.

    This is honestly the only downside of the phone! The battery lasts forever, even after watching movies and playing Angry Birds all day. :o) I highly recommend it.

  4. says

    Well, you definitely got my attention with the first three words of your recipe ;) I won’t halve this delicious-looking recipe, don’t worry! Peter is exactly the same as Mr. Prevention when it comes to Costco. The last time we were there, he emerged with a two year supply of electric toothbrush attachments.

    Have a great day, Nicole!

  5. says

    Hmmmm…it just so happens I have that huge box of baby spinach from Costco sitting in my fridge right now and picked up some AH mazing amish smoked bacon at the Westside Market yesterday…so I’m thinking this dish needs to end up on my table this week! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Julie Johnson says

    This recipe sounds amazing and so healthy! I see you use whole wheat pasta and It still has a lot of carbs. Would using a product like Dreamfields pasta help lower the carbs?

    • Nicole, RD says

      Julie: Whole wheat products are not lower in carbohydrate, they simply offer the fiber. Dreamfields is actually not a low-carbohydrate pasta (see this post: http://preventionrd.com/2012/08/rd-qa-vol-25/ — I kind of go off on a tangent about the whole “protected carbohydrate” bit). I’m not familiar with all the low-carb options, but I would probably choose a quinoa pasta to reduce the carbohydrate some. I hope that helps!

  7. says

    FYI, I’ve made my green monsters the night before and they are just fine the next day – my husband is usually sleeping when I leave for work, and our blender is so fricken loud!

    Love this recipe – when your membership runs out at Costco, get your bacon at your deli at the grocery store – so much cheaper than the packaged bacon!

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