I’ve never been a huge fan of Italian food. I can take or leave pizza and I’ve never understood how some restaurants justify charging upwards of £15 for a bowl of pasta. It’s ironic then that going on a healthy eating plan has enabled me to fall in love with simple, tasty Italian pasta dishes that are quick and economical to cook.
Pasta with clams and bacon from the third instalment of the Hairy Dieters series has become one of my favourites. The photo above might not scream ‘eat me now!’, but don’t let that put you off, the flavour combinations in this recipe are divine and I’d urge you to try it.
Disclaimer: my local supermarkets aren’t posh enough to stock clams so I substituted them for cockles which worked a treat. Clams, cockles or even mussels – see what works for you. But whatever you use, don’t forget to save 50ml of the liquor when draining them as adding this back into the pan makes this sumptuous dish even more yummy.
Recipe: Pasta with clams and bacon
Calories: 295 calories per portion
Book: Hairy Dieters – Good Eating
Prep time: Approx 10 mins
Cooking time: Approx 12 mins
Ingredients: 200g spaghetti, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 slices of lean bacon (finely chopped), 1 shallot or small onion (finely chopped), 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped), 1 tsp chilli flakes (or according to taste), 100ml white wine, 280g can of clams in brine (drained), 2 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley, flaked sea salt, ground black pepper
Cost per portion: Approx £1.30 (based on using cockles, NOT clams). It will cost more if you use clams.
Method: Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the spaghetti, stir well and bring the water back to the boil. Cook the pasta for 10–12 minutes until tender, or according to the packet instructions, stirring occasionally.
While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry it until crisp and brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and set it aside. Turn the heat down, add the chopped shallot or onion and cook slowly until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for another 2 minutes, then pour in the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Drain the clams, reserving some of their liquor. Add 50ml of this liquor, along with the clams, to the frying pan, then put the bacon back in the pan. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary and a grinding of black pepper.