I know today is Thanksgiving but I cooked all of my Thanksgiving food last week and after eating turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce all week I needed something new. After perusing my “to cook” list, I decided to make something quick, easy and super scrumptious: pasta with bacon, pesto, cheese and tomatoes. YUM. I just ate a bowl of this while tweaking the photos and I have to say that this is probably more of a side dish than a one-dish meal like I expected. Never the less, it’s easy and delicious. Add a couple other sides and you’ve got a complete meal!
Bacon Pesto Pasta Bake
- 14.5 oz. box penne pasta $2.08
- 1 (10 oz.) jar basil pesto $1.98
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella $1.88
- 1 pint grape tomatoes $1.50
- 6 oz. applewood smoked bacon $1.10
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to the directions on the box (boil for about 10 minutes).
- While the pasta cooks, chop the bacon into small bits and cook in a skillet over medium/high heat until crispy. Spoon cooked bacon onto paper towel to absorb the extra fat. While the pasta and bacon cook, rinse the tomatoes and cut each in half.
- When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander. Once it is well drained, return it to the pot (removed from heat). Mix in the pesto, bacon, tomatoes and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish and spread out. Top with the remaining one cup of cheese.
- Put the casserole in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden brown on top (approximately 20 minutes). EAT!
STEP 3: When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander. Once it is well drained, return it to the pot (removed from heat). Mix in the pesto, bacon, tomatoes and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish and spread out. Top with the remaining one cup of cheese.
STEP 4: Put the casserole in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden brown on top (approximately 20 minutes). EAT!
NOTE: This recipe calls for 6 oz. of bacon (uncooked) which is half of a normal sized package of bacon. If you don’t use the rest you can freeze it! The best part is that if you don’t use the second half all at once, you can just cut off what you need, cook it and keep the rest frozen. Of course, this is only applicable for recipes where the bacon is used in “bit” sized pieces, not strips. Because the bacon is so fatty, it is fairly soft when frozen making it really easy to cut into. Your other option is to cook up all of the bacon into crispy little bits and then freeze half of the cooked pieces. Then, of course, if you really really like bacon, you can just use the whole package in the recipe and make the dish cost $9.64 and $1.20 per serving.
If you are feeling really adventurous, try making a cheese sauce (like in the sun dried tomato and spinach mac n’ cheese) and stir the pesto into that before mixing with the pasta. This method will yield a super creamy pesto pasta dish!