Creamy cauliflower, bacon and spinach pasta

We eat pasta a lot midweek. There’s an advert on at the moment that tries to sell a frozen fillet of fish ready marinated in some sauce or other as a superior choice over a simple bowl of pasta for a midweek dinner, as though pasta is a second rate option. There’s no shame in pasta for tea a few times a week; it’s the ultimate fast food and when combined with a sauce that’s made in the same time it’s a complete no brainer for stressed out mums. I am obsessed with devising such sauces (check out this lovely tuna pasta, or this courgette carbonara). Often my quick pasta dishes have broccoli at their heart; I chuck the quartered florets and diced stalk in with the pasta and cook in the water – then add a little softened garlic, or some anchovies and chilli, some cream cheese – there’s endless options. I’ve applied the same logic here with cauliflower, cooking it in the pan with the pasta, whilst I also fried off some bacon lardons and then combined the two, along with a splash of starchy pasta water, some creme fraiche, a little dijon mustard and heaps of parmesan. Some greenery too comes in the form of spinach, which wilts in the cooked pasta and sauce. It is very easy and very tasty. The kids really liked it.

I made it super early tonight, with fingers and toes crossed that I would be able to get enough light to take a quick piccie. Incredibly, at just before 4pm, there was just enough to create a passable picture. It’s a major downside to food blogging that the full daylight starts to go about 3.30pm in winter months, so I can’t quickly snap what we’re having for tea, which has been my ‘strategy’ for posting up until now! There’s no use trying under household lights, it produces an awful photo with an orange effect. Therefore I’m cooking a lot in the mornings, when I have childcare, and taking pics, then reheating a lot of stuff for dinner. Still, at least dinner is already made come teatime.

Here’s how you whip up this very tasty little midweek number, it’s definitely going to be a regular fixture here at Chez Brady. I’ll take it over a frozen fish fillet any day!

Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes 
Total time: 13 minutes 

Ingredients:
300g pasta (I used farfalle – little bow ties)
Half a head of cauliflower, florets cut into quarters and stalks cut into bitesize pieces
About 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons (little strips)
100g parmesan, grated – plus more for serving
100g spinach
About 6-8 tablespoons of creme fraiche
1 heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Pinch salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Start by filing a large pot with water and putting in on to boil. 
  2. Snip bacon into strips and start to fry off until crispy in a little oil. 
  3. When the water is boiling, salt it a little and add the cauliflower and pasta. Stir to prevent the pasta from sticking. They will need to cook until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes or whatever it says on the packet. 
  4. Once it’s done, reserve half a mugful of pasta water, and drain. 
  5. Now tip in the spinach and toss, adding most of the water. Add the creme fraiche, along with the mustard and parmesan. Mix well, seasoning to taste. You can do all this over a very low heat if you like, but remember to turn it off once the spinach has wilted into the sauce.
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