We all know that spinach and artichokes are a great combination, but have you tried adding bacon’s uniquely salty, meaty crunch to the mix? Try this easy 30 minute recipe for spinach and artichoke pasta with bacon and ricotta and have your family begging for more!Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
Spinach and artichoke pasta with bacon was one of those accidental recipes that I made by opening the fridge to find not very much there, and having no idea what to make for dinner. I had an open bag of spinach, a couple of giant jars of Costco artichoke hearts, and some homemade ricotta leftover from making bacon cannoli a few days earlier. As always, I had bacon and a variety of pasta choices in the cupboard. My kids sometimes complain about spinach, but they will usually eat it with artichokes in a dip or on a pizza. As we always say in out house, bacon makes everything better, so I decided to throw it all together with a simple velouté sauce.
Step One: Make Bacon
Get out a half pound or so of bacon (homemade if you’ve started making your own bacon), and dice it up. Toss it into a cast-iron or stainless steel pan without preheating, and turn the cold pan to medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently to avoid sticking, until bacon is crisp but not burnt. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 1/4 cup bacon fat in the pan, and save the rest for another purpose.
Step Two: Make Bacon Velouté Sauce
What the heck is a velouté? It’s super easy and you’ve probably done it a hundred times before – you just might not know the word. Velouté sauce is one of the five mother sauces of French cooking, and it is simply a blond roux of butter and flour combined with a light stock such as chicken.
We’re going to replace the butter with bacon fat, and combine it with equal parts flour. In the same pan that you cooked the bacon, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour to make a roux, and stir constantly for a minute or two until well combined. Begin to pour in chicken or pork stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring after each addition to avoid the formation of clumps. Start with 1 1/2 cups, but plan to add another 1/2-1 cup as it thickens. Taste the sauce and add a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Stay light on the salt, as you’ll be adding bacon and ricotta later on.
Step Three: Add Spinach, Artichokes, Ricotta, and Bacon
To the velouté, add 4 oz of fresh spinach (or more if your family is a big fan). Add about a pound of artichoke hearts, either jarred or frozen. Stir well to combine. Mince up 3 large cloves of garlic and toss that in. Cook about 5 minutes (10 if artichokes were frozen), or until spinach is cooked and artichoke hearts are warmed through. If the sauce thickens, add more stock in 1/4 cup increments. It should stay about as thick as creamy soup.
Stir in 1/2 cup of fresh ricotta. It’s super easy to make homemade ricotta and I highly recommend it, but store-bought is fine too. You could also substitute feta if you like the stronger flavor and have some on hand. Add the cooked bacon. Taste the sauce again and adjust salt and pepper. I like to add about a tablespoon of Aleppo pepper. Aleppo pepper, named for a Syrian city, is made from the Halaby pepper and is common in Middle Eastern cuisine. It gives only mild heat, while adding a cumin-y undertone that doesn’t overpower your cooking. Feel free to substitute red pepper flakes (perhaps in half that quantity) if you prefer things a bit spicier, or paprika if you want to avoid heat entirely.
Step Four: Assemble Spinach Artichoke Pasta with Bacon
While you’re making your sauce, put a large pot of water on to boil. Salt it generously, and boil a pound of spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, reserving a bit of pasta water if needed to thin out the sauce. Toss the noodles together with the sauce. Sprinkle with a bit more fresh ricotta, and some Aleppo flakes and diced parsley for color. Serve with some crusty bread and a green vegetable, and enjoy! Comment below with any questions, or to tell me how it went, and please pin and share the recipe if you liked it!
Spinach and Artichoke Pasta with Bacon
- 1/2 lb bacon
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2-2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 4 oz spinach fresh preferably, or frozen
- 1 lb artichoke hearts packed in oil or frozen, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese preferably homemade
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 1 Tbsp Aleppo pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Dice bacon and cook in large stainless pan until crisp. Remove to paper towel-lined plate, reserving 1/4 cup rendered fat in pan
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil pasta according to package directions while completing other steps. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water after draining.
- Add flour to bacon fat and stir untli well-combined, about 2 minutes. Begin to add chicken stock, in 1/2 cup increments, stirring well between additions. Continue to add stock until 1 1/2-2 cups have been used, and sauce resembles a creamy soup
- Stir spinach, garlic, and artichoke hearts into sauce. Taste and season. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted and artichokes are warmed through, 5-10 minutes. If sauce thickens stir in an additional 1/2 cup stock
- Add ricotta, bacon, and Aleppo pepper. Stir until well-combined. Taste and adjust seasonings
- Toss cooked spaghetti with sauce. Thin with reserved pasta water if needed. Top with a sprinkle of fresh ricotta and a bit more Aleppo pepper for color, and serve
- May substitute feta for ricotta
- May substitute paprika or red pepper flakes (start with 1 tsp and adjust for desired heat level) for Aleppo pepper