College food. Does that phrase ring any bells? If you’re smiling right now, you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? College food is what you used to make when you were strapped for money and time, but pretty darn hungry. Fast and filling and preferably delicious, though I’ve had friends who didn’t use delicious—or even remotely good—as a criteria as long as it was edible. It probably won’t surprise you I wasn’t one of them.
This was my favorite recipe back then, and I still make it these days because I just really like it. It’s undoubtedly one of the more unorthodox pasta recipes you’ll come across. Give it a try sometime, though. Who knows… you might be pleasantly surprised.
Here’s what I do with leftover pasta and stale bread.
2 slices stale bread (white)
1 1/2 cup leftover pasta
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 small onion
3 bacon rashers
1 garlic clove
First things first. I’ve cooked 3 thin bacon rashers until they were crispy and drained them on a paper towel. This was roughly 1 oz. Don’t clean the skillet!
I’ve finely chopped half a small onion.
And I’ve grated a reasonably sized garlic clove.
Stale bread—or a stale white bun in my case—works like a charm for this. Just rip it up and give it an extra chop. Or put it in your food processor and pulse a few times if you’re feeling particularly lazy.
Use the skillet you cooked the bacon in. Add a tiny knob of butter to the bacon grease. Add your onions and half your grated garlic and cook, over low heat, for a few minutes. Until the onion has softened.
Pour in 1/2 a cup half and half (or use regular cream). Squeeze in lots of fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low and leave it be for a few minutes.
Use another skillet to heat a few drops of oil; about a tbsp or so. Add the breadcrumbs, the other half of the garlic, a tsp dried (or fresh) thyme and your crumbled bacon. Stir and cook until the bread is crispy.
Add your leftover pasta to the cream sauce. I still had 1 1/2 cup leftover pasta and it was precisely enough. Now crank up the heat a little until the pasta heats up.
Add the bread crumb mix to the pasta and give it a swirl. That’s it, folks.
This is so good. The bread crumbs provide a fabulous crispy contrast, the sauce is just enough to coat the pasta and it’s really, really flavorful. Nowadays I garnish it with a few Parmesan curls (or canned Parmesan) and some basil strips.
Now admit this doesn’t look all too shabby for college food!
Fess up… what’s the college food you still eat nowadays?