Spaghetti with Chicory, Bacon & Bread Crumbs
I love chicory- not the white, familiar endives, but the Italian variety, also called "cicoria", with its long stems, lush green leaves and mildly bitter-sweet flavor. It makes a wonderful accompaniment to white beans and spicy sausage, or alternatively to pasta and bacon as I made here... with some wonderfully crunchy toasted bread crumbs to give it that extra "wow!" which I am sure you are going to exclaim too as soon as you try it!
This is another super quick and easy to make recipe- cheap, healthy and full of great flavor... all of my favorite things all over again! To be upfront and honest about this cicoria, it was actually the outer leaves of the "puntarelle" that I prepared as a salad on Saturday... which is even more reason to go ahead and buy them should you be so lucky as to find them in your area, as they offer 2 great meals in one! The inner "pods" to be enjoyed raw as a salad and the outer leaves to be cooked as a green- yum yum! And now on with the show...
The first thing you need to do here is to get your chicory boiling in salted water- it will take about 10 minutes- which is great, because you can be preparing the crispy bread crumbs in the meantime. To make them, simply start a little finely diced bacon sizzling in a dry pan, then add bread crumbs, a little olive oil, salt, pepper and finely grated parmesan cheese, whilst stirring all the time. I think it is only fair to warn you at this point that you WILL taste it and could end up eating the lot before the pasta is ready... so prepare a little bit more than you think you will need :-)
Once the bread crumbs are toasted, set them to one side to cool off and remove the chicory from the saucepan and transfer it straight to the frying pan with a little olive oil and crushed garlic. Pop your spaghetti into the boiling chicory water and cook until al dente, then drain it and then pass that over to the frying pan too. Stir everything together well and then top with the crispy bread crumbs... oh wow! Add a little coarsely ground black pepper, a hint of nutmeg and pull up a chair... it's time for supper! I told you it was quick and easy... all you have to do now is enjoy!