The first time my husband cooked for me, not long after we met, he made Tagliatelli with Bacon and Cream. It was his own recipe, bacon fried with garlic and herbs, tossed with fresh tagliatelli and cream. If I hadn’t been head over heels in love with him already, I would have been after that meal. It might not have been heart friendly from the point of view of your health, but it was heart friendly in many other ways!
The other night I really fancied a treat, and my husband’s recipe seemed like the perfect solution. However I had a fridge full of lovely vegetables I wanted to use so I hesitated a bit. And then I had an idea...why not make this rather decadent recipe just a bit healthier by adding some vegetables - and also create a vegetarian version of this recipe at the same time? It was a very happy experiment, and here is the result.
To serve 3 to 4 people generously you need:
1 pound of fresh tagliatelle pasta
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 red pepper, cored and cut in thin slices
1 to 2 zucchini, sliced in half and cut in half moons
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
freshly ground pepper
about ½ cup light cream or half and half
(I use single cream here in England)
¾ cup cubed pancetta or chopped bacon (optional, leave out for the vegetarian version)
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it is beginning to soften. Add the garlic, red pepper, zucchini, oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are just beginning to become tender.
If you are using pancetta or bacon, turn up the heat just a bit, and add it here. Continue cooking until the meat is done.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. (Fresh pasta does not take long to cook.) Drain and return to the pan.
Add the vegetable mixture to the pasta, and then gradually add the cream, stirring and tossing the pasta with two forks as you go until the pasta is lightly coated. You may not need all the cream, or you may need a little more, depending on the consistency of the pasta. (You want the pasta to be coated and moist, but you don’t want pools of cream on the plate!)
Serve on warmed plates.