As I’ve mentioned before, pregnant folks are not supposed to eat soft cheeses—goat cheese, blue cheese, Brie, et al.—due to the risk of contracting listeria. Never mind that most commercial soft cheeses available in grocery stores are made from pasteurized milk, and that the listeria danger comes chiefly from unpasteurized milk. It’s kind of like the alcohol thing…yes, studies show a beer or a glass of wine here and there isn’t going to cause any harm, but WHAT IF? It doesn’t matter how irrational the claim. If you’re pregnant, you’ve been told not to do something, and you’re even the slightest bit neurotic to begin with, there’s no way you’ll be able to bring yourself to do it. And so it is with me and eating goat cheese that hasn’t been cooked. This means any consumption of goat cheese (and there can’t not be consumption of goat cheese; I’ve given up a lot of things, but that’s not going to be one of them) must be worked into an existing dinner somehow, like the cheese-stuffed mac ’n’ cheese pie, or this pasta, which I admit I was kind of obsessed with even before I went and got myself knocked up.
This dish is actually best with fresh pasta, and it’s what I usually use, but I just didn’t have it in me the night I was supposed to make this, so I substituted dried. It makes more than you’d expect (as you’d hope it would, considering the price)—about 6 servings.
• 2 1/2 lbs. roma tomatoes, chopped: $2.23
• 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into strips: $1.40
• About 5 cups arugula (chopped if using adult leaves): 79 cents*
• 6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped: 10 cents
• 1 T chopped fresh rosemary (garden): $0
• 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes: 5 cents
• 1 lb. pasta, fresh or dried: $1.19
• 6 oz. goat cheese: $3.75
• 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling: 90 cents
• 2 T balsamic vinegar: 20 cents
• Salt and pepper: 2 cents
TOTAL: $10.63/6 = $1.77/serving
*Oh yeah. Makes me feel a little better about not being able to grow any this year. (But just a little. I mean, really, Dole? With the “salad guide”? I was embarrassed to buy this.)
Combine chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and let sit and macerate for about 10-15 minutes.
Cook bacon in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat until crisp and fat has rendered. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Add garlic, rosemary and pepper flakes to the bacon fat (add more bacon fat if you have some on hand or some olive oil if the pan looks too dry), sauté until fragrant. Add tomato-balsamic mixture and the bacon. Simmer over medium heat until tomatoes are reduced and broken apart a bit, about 7-10 minutes.
Add the arugula during the last few minutes and stir until wilted.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente according to package directions. (Remember, you only need a few minutes for fresh.) Drain and return to the pot. Add the sauce mixture, goat cheese, and Parmesan. Mix until goat cheese has melted. Season to taste with more salt and pepper; serve with more Parmesan.