Bacon and tomato cream sauce for pasta: $2.70

Back when I used to coupon, jarred tomato sauce was pretty much always on my radar. There was usually a coupon for some brand or another, and it was pretty easy to find what I considered at the time “the good stuff” (Newman’s, Classico) for around $2. Never mind that my beloved “good stuff” was nothing more than processed, over-sweetened, homogenous-tasting tomato purée; it was only $2! If only I knew at the time I could make almost two jars’ worth of restaurant-quality tomato sauce myself—WITH BACON!—for under $3. Seriously, if you’re beholden to the jarred stuff, you need to try this. It can be whipped up in the time it takes to boil a pot of pasta, and might just make you repent your addiction to processed food* once and for all.

*(Yes, I know bacon, wine and cream are all technically processed foods. Just let me have this one.)

The amount below is enough for between 1 and 1 1/2 pounds of pasta. The basil definitely adds to the meal, but I know it’s not in season right now, so it won’t be the end of the world if you leave it out. I was lucky enough to have a few little plants plugging away in my Aerogarden.

• 2 cans petite diced tomatoes (or 1 large can): $1.19
• 1/2 cup white wine: 44 cents
• 1/2 cup cream: 50 cents
• 3 oz. bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces: 51 cents
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped: 4 cents
• Large handful of basil leaves (garden), torn: $0
• Salt and pepper: 2 cents
• Parmesan cheese, grated: $1
• 1 lb. pasta of your choice: $1
TOTAL FOR MEAL (5-6 servings): $4.70

Set a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

In a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp and fat has rendered. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the garlic cloves to the bacon fat (trust me—you don’t want to pour any out, even if it looks like a lot) and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up any browned bits. Simmer a bit until reduced by half, then add the tomatoes and cream. Simmer on medium-low while the pasta cooks, or until thickened. At the very end, stir in the basil and bacon and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta (do not rinse) and add to the skillet or sauté pan with the sauce. Stir gently to combine; serve garnished with the cheese and more basil, if you have it.

8 responses to “Bacon and tomato cream sauce for pasta: $2.70

  1. Great recipe as usual!

    If you substitute bacon with pancetta or guanciale and cream with dried chile peppers (yes that second substitution sounds a bit weird) you’ll end up with a sauce from Rome called Amatriciana rossa (bianca is sans tomatoes) 😉

    PS wasn’t it on your blog that I read canned whole tomatoes are preferable to diced?

    • I had no idea! I’m always very impressed with your breadth of Italian-food knowledge. I’ll have to try that.

      Thanks for bringing that up about the tomatoes—canned whole tomatoes are preferable to diced UNLESS you want the tomatoes to keep their diced shape and not dissolve. You could well use whole tomatoes for this sauce, but it would take them longer to break down, and the diced ones allow it to thicken quicker. Since the whole point of the post was to show that you can make a sauce in the time it takes to boil pasta, I figured diced was a fair shortcut.

      • I usually puree whole tomatoes in the food processor, just takes 10 seconds and the dishwasher takes care of cleaning up after me 🙂

        I should make an Amatriciana and post about it. Always love simple recipes with a lot of taste.

        I’m just as impressed by the huge variety of dishes you make on a tight budget, and they all sound good to me! I’m not always good with the budget part 😉

  2. This… Was amazing. So simple and yet so delicious. Loverman was literally licking his bowl. Not exactly the height of manners, but the highest compliment, I assure you!

  3. I can’t stop laughing about what you said when you used to coupon . You used to think jarred pasta sauce was good stuff lol. I don’t think anyone who eats that stuff knows what they are missing and how simple it is to make a marinara or pasta sauce. Here’s my recipe Thanks for sharing this recipe, I’ll give it a go. I also want to start making my own pasta, it looks dead simple. Have you made it before?

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