Spaghetti with Escarole and Bacon

Crisp bacon complements escarole so well that you may be tempted to sauté the greens in the bacon fat, but don't do it; the bacon will then overwhelm the greens completely. Use olive oil instead, which will bring all the flavors together.

Slideshow:Fast Weekday Pastas

  • Servings: 4


  • 1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 head escarole (about 1 1/2 pounds), leaves cut into 1/2-inch strips (about 3 quarts)
  • 2/3 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon butter

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large deep frying pan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Pour off all the fat from the pan.

  2. In the same pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic, red-pepper flakes, and anchovy paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the escarole, a little at a time, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until just done, about 12 minutes. Drain the pasta; add it to the pan with the escarole. Stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the Parmesan, bacon, and butter.


Stir in a cup of drained canned cannellini beans when you add the broth in Step 2.

Add two tablespoons of chopped fresh basil just before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Italian white wines were made for dishes like this one. Soave, Orvieto, Frascati—all are based on the Trebbiano grape and have the crisp, neutral, refreshing taste and light body that allow the pasta to take center stage.

Photo © Karen Mordechai Published April 2014

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