Chipotle Bacon Pasta Bake

Happy International Bacon Day! This must be one of the best, little-known “holidays” of the year! And what a great idea to have it on September 1st; when we could be dwelling on the fact that August is gone and Winter Is Coming, we are distracted by a day to celebrate all things bacon. Oh Hallelujah!

Today started off with a piece of gluten free toast topped with summery sweet tomatoes, cheddar cheese that melted under the heat of a few fried pieces of applewood smoked bacon, and a sunny side up egg. The ultimate ‘Ode to Bacon. Not much shows better respect to bacon than the humble, runny egg. Lunchtime promises a Caesar Salad with my husband’s greek-yogurt caesar dressing (with gluten-free worchestershire of course), mounds of shredded parmigiano reggiano, crunchy gluten free croutons and crispy maple bacon. For dinner, the Nacho Gods are calling: and today they’ll be topped with a chipotle pork chili and salty, smoky shards of bacon rained down on the whole thing. Yes, today is going to be a good day.

If you’re so inclined, you can make yourself and your family the following recipe; a chipotle bacon pasta baked with cheese. It’s creamy, smoky, and sharp. The inspiration for making this came last weekend when we were at Boston Pizza with my family. Like so many meals we make at home, I made this after Kyle couldn’t decide between 2 menu items. I peered over his shoulder, and told him: “pick A, because I’ll make you B tomorrow.” Done. I’ve never ordered this dish, so I can’t say with certainty that it tastes the same as the Baked Chipotle Bacon Penne, but Kyle loved it regardless, and that’s all that counts for me.

Chipotle Bacon Pasta Bake

Inspired by Boston Pizza Restaurant

340g/12oz gluten free fusili (or your favourite short pasta)
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (and divided)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Gluten Free Alfredo Sauce
2 Tbsp butter
1 8oz tub cream cheese spread
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to directions to Al Dente consistency – you don’t want overcooked pasta, as it’s going to soak up the alfredo sauce in the oven. Meanwhile, crisp up the bacon pieces in a non-stick pan over medium heat; approximately 8 minutes – but crisp it to your desired degree of crispiness.

To make the Alfredo Sauce: While your pasta is boiling and your bacon is cooking, whip up the alfredo sauce; But I won’t tell anyone if you use an alfredo sauce from a jar – it’ll be our little secret. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the cream cheese, garlic powder and a bit of the milk, stirring with a whisk. Continue to add in more milk, whisking as you go to obtain a smooth consistency. Turn up the heat to medium high, and stir until the mixture comes to a slight boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the paremesan cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Allow to simmer until the sauce is thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon  – stir occasionally. This should only take about 5-10 minutes in total to make. When thickened, turn the heat to low until ready to use. *If you like, whisk in a Tbsp of the bacon fat from the crisped bacon – this will add a little bacon essence to your alfredo sauce; nothing wrong with that.

When the pasta is cooked, the bacon is crisp, and the sauce is thick you’re ready to assemble the pasta. In a large bowl or the pot you cooked the pasta in, combine the pasta, bacon, alfredo sauce, tomatoes, onions, chipotle chili powder, and 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese. When the pasta mixture is thoroughly combined, pour it into the prepared baking dish. Top the dish with the remaining cheddar and parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling. Turn the oven to broil, and brown the top under the broiler for approximately 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on it, as it can burn quickly! Remove the pasta bake from the oven, and allow to sit for 5 minutes before dishing up. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6 (depending on what you serve with the meal).

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