In many Italian pasta dishes, you’ll find unsmoked cured pork, like pancetta or guanciale. These dishes, however, use American-style bacon in all of its smoky glory.

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1. With capers and mint

Spaghetti with Bacon, Capers and Mint
Credit: © Katie Quinn Davies

Take a cue from the Amalfi Coast and brighten up a basic bacon pasta dish with briny capers, cherry tomatoes and herbs.

2. Cheesy and baked

Add bacon to a luscious riff on mac and cheese.

3. With bitter greens

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Bacon’s smoky fat cuts the bitterness of greens, like escarole, broccoli rabe and endive.

4. Baked, with cauliflower

How do you make a creamy, cheesy bacon pasta dish (slightly) healthier? Reduce the amount of pasta you use by subbing in some cauliflower.

5. With brussels sprouts

Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
Credit: © Livia Corona

Bacon and brussels sprouts are a classic match. Why not toss with pasta?

6. With clams

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Make a mash-up of chowder and linguine and clams by adding bacon to your alle vongole.

7. With shrimp

Love bacon-wrapped shrimp? Then toss the smoky meat in your shrimp pasta dish and a winey tomato sauce.

8. Amatriciana

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Mario Batali’s version of this Italian-American classic, which is essentially a spicy, bacon-y tomato sauce, is as satisfying as ever.

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Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and author of the forthcoming The Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016) and the blog Eat Better, Drink Better. She is also the cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.