This vegi and pasta dish is packed with flavor | NevadaAppeal.com

This vegi and pasta dish is packed with flavor

Special to The Washington Post

This pasta gets so much flavor from the bacon and sweet onion that it doesn’t need much else. You could add freshly ground black pepper for contrast.

Shells With Bacon, Zucchini and Sweet Onion

4 servings

MAKE AHEAD: The bacon, zucchini and onion can be cut up, wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 24 hours before preparing. The dish should be made just before serving.

Salt, for the cooking water, plus 1⁄8 teaspoon for the zucchini

8 ounces dried shell pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 ounces (about 4 thick slices) applewood smoked bacon (preferably nitrate-free), cut into 1⁄4 inch-wide, 1-inch-long matchsticks

1 medium onion, preferably sweet, such as Vidalia or Mayan, cut into 1⁄4- to 1⁄2-inch dice (1 cup)

1 pound zucchini, preferably 4 small ones, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet or shallow braising pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring, until the pieces start to render their fat but have not yet browned. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pieces soften.

Add the zucchini and the 1⁄8 teaspoon salt and stir to incorporate; cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is tender. Add pepper to taste.

Combine the cooked and drained pasta with the vegetable mixture in a large serving bowl, preferably warmed. Serve warm, with Parmesan cheese for passing at the table.

NUTRITION Per serving: 400 calories, 12 g protein, 51 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar.

– From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.