Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 7, 2013

Healthy meal uses seasonal produce, maximizes flavor

Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — My kids love pasta, but when they say they want pasta for dinner, they generally mean they want macaroni and cheese or spaghetti and meatballs.

Delicous, but you can’t live on those two dishes alone.

To get them to break out of their rut, I’ve been experimenting with other pasta dishes. Changing out the pasta shapes keeps the kids interested and exchanging fresh produce for a sauce makes the pasta a little healthier.

This recipe turned out to be a family favorite. The radiatore holds the “sauce” (basically some of the cooking water) wonderfully and the zucchini and tomatoes are flavorful and bright. The Feta adds just enough salty flavor and the bacon, well, everything tastes better with bacon.

Radiatore with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Bacon and Feta

3/4 pound short pasta, such as radiatore or cavatappi

4 slices bacon

2 medium zucchini,  quartered lengthwise and sliced

1/4 of a red onion, sliced (soak red onion in ICE water for about 20 minutes before using, it takes the bite out of the onion)

Sea salt and pepper

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

4 ounces Feta, crumbled

1/2 cup spicy oregano, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, saving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove, let cool and break into pieces. Drain most of the bacon fat from the skillet, leaving about a tablespoon. Add zucchini, onion and tomatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the vegetables are tender and tomatoes are softened, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the pasta and the cooking water to the skillet and toss to mix. Remove from the heat and add bacon and feta. Sprinkle with spicy oregano and serve immediately.