spaghetti_bacon.jpgWho doesn’t like a classic BLT? The only downside to cooking the main ingredient, bacon, is the dirty-pan cleanup. But as the adage goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Here, bacon’s cast-offs serve as the starting point for a second meal, a delicious pasta dinner with parsley, mushrooms and bacon, courtesy of David Latt, founder of MenWhoLiketoCook.com.

Now: BLT

Serves 4

blt.jpg8 slices bacon, divided use
8 slices bread
4 lettuce leaves (red leaf, romaine or iceberg)
1 large ripe tomato
1 ripe avocado, sliced
Half a red onion, thinly sliced
One-quarter cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste

Toast the bread, if desired, and set it aside to cool.

Because you’ll be using the browned bits to make a second meal, don’t use a nonstick pan when cooking the bacon. Instead, choose a stainless steel or cast iron pan.

Over a low flame, place bacon in the pan—cooking in batches, if necessary—so the slices don’t touch. Flip bacon halfway through so it cooks evenly. Once it’s crisp, place bacon on paper towels to drain.

Pour off fat from the pan, but don’t clean it. Reserve the pan and four slices of bacon for the next recipe.

Spread a thin layer of mayo on each slice of bread. Top each with a slice of bacon, two lettuce leaves and slices of tomato, avocado and red onion. Season salt and pepper.

Later: Spaghetti Topped with Crispy Bacon

Serves 4
1 pound dry pasta (any cut will do)
Generous pinch of kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
2 tablespoons butter, divided use
Sea salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, roughly chopped
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, dried
Half-pound pound mushrooms, brown, shiitake, or portabella, washed, sliced 
1 cup pasta water
4 slices of reserved, cooked bacon, crumbled
One-quarter cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add a generous pinch of kosher salt. Avoid using table salt because it tastes metallic.

Add the pasta and stir. Most pasta cooks in less than 10 minutes, but be sure to follow the package directions. To prevent sticking and promote even cooking, stir frequently and taste to ensure pasta is al dente before draining.

In order to capture some of the pasta water, place a heat-resistant cup in the sink. Hold the colander over the cup and drain the pasta over it. Set pasta water aside.

Return the pasta to the pot. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, add 1 tablespoon butter, season with sea salt and pepper and toss well. Lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top to keep the pasta warm. Do not seal the pot.

In the reserved frying pan used to cook the bacon, add the remaining olive oil and heat over a medium flame. Add the garlic, onion, parsley and mushrooms. Cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with reserved pasta water. Stir to dislodge flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining butter and stir. Reduce liquid by a third. Season with salt and pepper as needed, but remember that the added pasta water is salty.

Toss sauce with pasta. Top with bacon and serve immediately (to rave reviews), with grated cheese.

Note: You can get creative and swap out or add ingredients to the sauce. Great additions include browned Italian sausage, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and broccoli. Or, up the freshness factor by finishing the dish with fresh-shopped oregano or rosemary.

Adapted recipes courtesy of David Latt, founder of MenWhoLiketoCook.com.