24 September 2012

Eats: bacon avocado pasta

When I was interviewing for graduate school at the age of twenty-two (a better-part-of-a-decade ago), I had lived my entire life in a small town, hours away from any major metropolitan area. Up to that point, my culinary experiences had been... let’s say limited. Even if the opportunity to eat special cuisine presented itself on a visit to a major city, I hadn’t tried it. Because there’s an Applebee’s here, you guys! I never get to eat at Applebee’s, my town only has a McDonalds and a Taco Bell!

So. On one graduate school interview in particular, I was chatting with a guy from California, who was talking about his family’s restaurant business. I asked what sort of restaurant it was, and he said they served California cuisine. Yes, I know it’s in California, I replied, but what food do they serve?

California cuisine, he said again. And then realizing my Tennessee born-and-bred naïveté, he sighed and added, “It’s a thing. California cuisine is its own thing.” Then he changed the subject.

That guy wasn’t very nice, in retrospect. And to be honest, I’m still not exactly sure what California cuisine is. There seems to be a lot of “fusion”. And avocado is required?

So this pasta, inspired by this recipe, is my take on California cuisine. It has bacon and avocado and artichokes and olives and parmesan cheese, it’s different, it’s fusion-y, and it’s totally California cuisine, dude. Because if you will not define it for me I will define it for you.

For starters, we need an avocado. Duh.

And half a can each of artichokes and black olives, all diced up:

You also need some BACON!

Okay, turkey bacon. At least, for us. Because we care about our health, and because we are cheap. And because microwaving twelve slices takes only a matter of minutes!

I diced that up, too:

Easy peasy! (Except for the weird late-evening-after-work lighting. And the trouble focusing. Sorry about that, it’s only going to get worse as the days get shorter.)

While I was chopping all that up, I also boiled a pound of pasta noodles (rotini for us, but you can choose your favorite shape). Once the pasta was finished, I left it draining in a colander in the sink while I used the same pot to sauté around a tablespoon of minced garlic in herb-infused olive oil with a splash of white wine:

Herb-infused, you say? Okay, okay, I cheated and added a dash of Italian to this not-so-Italian dish. I can’t help myself. I picked up this stuff in the Italian neighborhood and I can’t stop putting it in everything:

But you can use regular olive oil with salt, black pepper, red pepper, and just a dash of oregano, and you’re good to go!

Once the garlic has cooked enough to get rid of the strong raw taste, throw all that delicious bacon in...

And then the pasta and veggies! I left the olives out of the main pot as I don’t care for them, so they got sprinkled on Mr. P’s bowl separately.

Say, do olives, artichokes, and avocado count as veggies? In California cuisine, I bet they do.

Oh, and don’t forget the parmesan cheese. Add enough to your taste and serve it up!

As I love pasta and bacon and avocado, this was totally a winner in my book. I ended up adding quite a bit of pepper to season it to my taste, but once I did that, I gobbled it down. Plus it couldn’t have come together more quickly! I don’t care if my take on California cuisine is inauthentic; if you’re not convinced, throw some fava beans on there or something. Who cares, it’s delicious. And it’s inspiring me – and maybe you – to try different flavors and combinations in the kitchen. Enjoy!