Five Ingredient Pasta #1: Thin Spaghetti with Fennel, Bacon and Parmesan

At once elegant and peasant-ish, these few ingredients come together in a kind of classy way.

Serves 6
Serving Size: 6

fennel bacon pasta

I recently wrote an article about 5-ingredient pastas, which was so much fun, and got me to re-appreciate how if you have packages of dried pasta on hand you always have dinner waiting to happen.

I love cooking concepts that could be their own little reality show.  This one would be titled something like: “Pasta Plus Give!  Grab A Box of Pasta and Five Ingredients That You Have on Hand and Make Dinner in About 20 Minutes.” Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?  It’s kind of a fun way to come up with creative recipes.  Don’t count the olive oil, salt and pepper.  I didn’t.

At once elegant and peasant-ish, this is a dish that has but a few flavors that add up to an admirable level of complexity.  You’ll want to give the final dish a generous drizzle of olive oil, a generous sprinkle of freshly ground pepper, and a generous sprinkling or Parmesan.  Generous, I say.

Also, if you have leftovers, when you reheat them you will probably want to toss them with a bit more broth, or at the very least water, as this kind of pasta tends to dry out a bit as it chills in the fridge.  Another (generous) drizzle of olive oil would certainly not hurt at all.

Try baking your bacon to reduce splattering and have the oven do the work for you.

And because we are working on this reality show concept, here are 4 other options, all with 5 ingredients:

5-ingredient Pasta #2: Campanelle with Chicken, Sausage, Kale and Olives

5 Ingredient Pasta #3: Pasta with Creamy Sundried Tomato and Scallion Sauce

5-Ingredient Pasta #4: Whole Grain Penne with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Feta

5-Ingredient Pasta #5: Chicken and Mushroom Marsala with Rotelle

Five Ingredient Pasta #1: Thin Spaghetti with Fennel, Bacon and Parmesan


  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 pounds thin spaghetti or other long skinny pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups chopped fennel (about 2 medium bulbs)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cups grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Salt the water generously, and let it return to a boil.  Add the pasta, and cook accordingly to package directions, stirring occasionally.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the leeks and fennel and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes until the vegetables soften.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

3. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Turn the fennel mixture into the pot with the pasta and add some or all of the reserved cooking water if the pasta seems dry. Toss to combine.  Add the Parmesan and the bacon and toss to combine.  Serve hot and pass additional Parmesan at the table.

Optional additional ingredients

Add some minced garlic and/or some 1-inch pieces of asparagus after the fennel and leeks have cooked for about 4 minutes for a very springtime-ish pasta.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome Newsletter

Dinnertime inspiration awaits.

Sign up to receive The Mom 100 recipe newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *