The key to making the sauce is to remove as much water from the spinach as you possibly can. Blanch the leaves, drain, refresh in cold water then squeeze. Squeeze hard. If you’re not confident that your hands alone can do a good job, place the drained spinach in a piece of cheese cloth and wring out the water.
The creamy spinach sauce can be cooked ahead, and made in bulk. It stays good in the fridge, in a covered container, for a day or so.
So, there are two ways to make this pasta dish. You can either make the spinach cream sauce ahead and just toss it with bacon and pasta. Or you can make the sauce from scratch. Whichever method you choose, the recipe for the sauce is provided below.
Pasta with bacon and spinach cream sauce
For the creamy spinach sauce (see notes after the recipe)
- 1 bag spinach
- 3 tablespoons roughly chopped onion
- 1 large bell pepper roasted - skinned, seeded and roughly chopped
- ¾ cup sour cream - less for a chunkier dip
- ¼ cup cream cheese - at room temperature
- cayenne powder
- juice from half a lemon or lime
To complete the dish
- 50 grams fettuccine - or your preferred pasta shape
- 2 rashers belly bacon - roughly chopped
Make the sauce
- Unless using baby spinach which has very tender stalks, I recommend picking the spinach leaves and discarding the stalks. Rinse the spinach leaves after picking.
- Boil about four cups of water.
- Dump the spinach in the boiling water, pressing the leaves down. Allow to cook for no more than a minute after the water boils again.
- Drain the spinach leaves. Douse under the tap to cool. Squeeze to remove the excess water.
- If you have less than a cup of spinach leaves at this point, you will need to use less sour cream and cream cheese. The measurements recommended above are good for a cup of boiled and squeezed spinach leaves.
- Put the spinach, roasted bell pepper, onion, sour cream and cream cheese in the food processor or blender. Process until smooth but with still discernible bits of leaves.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the lemon or lime juice.
- Add salt, pepper, cayenne powder and sugar — the amounts depending on the balance that you prefer. Mix. Adjust the seasonings some more, if needed.
- Chill until needed.
Complete the dish
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water.
- While the pasta cooks, fry the bacon in a non-stick frying pan.
- When the bacon is nicely browned, turn off the heat. Add two tablespoons spinach cream sauce to the still hot pan. Stir.
- Drain the pasta and dump into the bacon-spinach sauce mixture. Toss. Serve.