What many people out there might not know is that the kitchen in our house, which was built in the early 1940s and is otherwise very charming and spacious, is about the size of a very small walk-in closet. There are 4 very small cupboards, requiring us to keep most of our gadgets and pots in the basement, and the counter space comprises about 2 square feet—enough room for one plate or one pot, with the stove and edge of the sink serving as auxiliary work surfaces. As you can imagine, this prompts much teeth-gnashing on my part, as well as constant dishwashing diligence. Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond our control, the latter does not get done, as was the case this weekend. Therefore, this may not be the most inexpensive meal we eat this week, but it’s certainly the quickest and easiest. It doesn’t take but 20 minutes from start to finish—and I mean “start” as in taking the package of bacon out of the freezer, not putting food in a pan. Any pasta shape or type of greens are suitable, and you could even swap out the bacon for Italian sausage and balsamic vinegar for a few splashes of white wine if that’s what you have on hand.
The amounts below are for 2 servings.
• 3/4 bunch of leafy greens (kale, chard, mustard greens, collards, broccoli rabe, dandelion greens—whatever is forageable or on sale, but I used leftover kai lan from pad see ew), leaves chopped: $1.50
• 8 oz. spaghetti (or any other pasta you have on hand): 50 cents
• 1 onion, chopped: 25 cents
• 1/3 cup grated Parmesan: 20 cents
• 6 oz. bacon, thinly sliced crosswise (I usually just cut the amount I need off a package of frozen bacon, re-wrap, and proceed to cut and cook the cut-off portion while frozen. It will loosen up): 94 cents
• 1 T balsamic vinegar (or more to taste): 10 cents
• Salt & pepper: 2 cents
TOTAL: $3.51/2 = $1.76/serving
The trick here is to try to time it so the bacon mixture and the pasta are done around the same time.
On one burner: Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, saving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
On another burner: In a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp (about 5-6 minutes), drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour out all but 1 T of the bacon grease (save it in the fridge to substitute for shortening or butter), add the onions, and cook until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the chopped greens and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and cook until wilted, adding pasta water when necessary.
Add the cooked spaghetti. Add balsamic vinegar to taste and stir well. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if necessary.
Serve with the cheese and reserved bacon.