I am sure pasta bakes are a reliable standby in most people’s recipe-bank and therefore, it is almost redundant of me to share. However, I have a particular fondness for this recipe as I made it at a time of recent financial turbulence and was proud that I could cobble together a dish from the most meagre of ingredients and somehow harvest a few meals out of it. This bake is comforting in the remarkable way that only cheap food can be. It goes without saying that it is entirely uncomplicated, but when you are poor and lonely in a big city, sometimes it’s OK to eat as easily and simply as possible.
In addition, the tomato and bacon sauce coats linguine nicely, and can be twirled straight from saucepan to plate if preferred.
A measuring of pasta to suit your needs ( I used about 350g of Penne)
A couple of rashers of bacon (maybe 4 or 5). I used smoked ones for extra flavour
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Half a white onion
A dash of crème fraîche or cream
1 tsp of sugar
About a tsp of chilli flakes
Olive oil for frying
A knob of butter
Salt and pepper
A little bit of basil, or even thyme if you have it
A good and generous grating of Red Leicester
Begin by cooking the pasta in a large pan of salted water. Cook for about 11 minutes, retaining some bite.
Finely slice the onion and fry in a large frying pan until soft, with olive oil and some butter. Chop the bacon into slivers and add to the pan. Fry until the bacon is near-crispy.
Tip the tin of chopped tomatoes into the onions and bacon, season with salt and black pepper. Add the sugar and bring to the boil. Allow the sauce to simmer, embellishing with a scattering of chilli flakes and some roughly chopped basil. A dash of cream or crème fraîche will transform the sauce into a peachy, silky consistency.
Once the pasta is cooked to liking (important to not over cook it), toss it into the pan. If needed, keep some pasta water aside to lighten the sauce, but I find this is a less necessary tactic for tomato-based sauces. Mix the pasta into the sauce and allow to sit for a few minutes.
Tumble the coated pasta into an ovenproof dish. Finish with a turn of black pepper and a little more chopped basil. Top with a liberal layer of grated cheese.
Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and bronzed.
Can be reheated in the microwave, or eaten cold at lunchtime.