Cavatappi w/Bacon-Garlic Marinara

So I know I’ve talked about this before, but I really, really love this marinara sauce recipe from the NYT Cooking blog.

I’ve gotten feedback from a couple of you that it was a little watery for your taste, but here’s the issue:

YOU HAVE TO LET IT REDUCE A BIT. Otherwise yes, it will be a little thin. But if you continue to cook it over medium heat for 15-20, it’ll get nice and thick. Trust me.

This was the last meal I made in my apartment before moving, and it snowed that same day. It felt so perfect and so sad at the same time. Am I the only one who gets sad when alone on a snow day? It’s somehow different from a rainy day. Maybe because the streets are emptier and the snow casts a big white spotlight on your life and you’re like, well fuck…I don’t wanna look at that.

So…it felt right to make a bowl of something warm, easy, and delicious. Yea, I basically just admitted that I wanted to eat my feelings. I’m fine with it.

Enter: bacon, garlic, tomato sauce, and pasta. I was packing up my kitchen when it dawned on me that I wanted to try and cook as many things in my cabinets as possible. It was like a very weird and specific episode of Chopped, and I was the only contestant.

The thing I love about this sauce is the amount of garlic it has. Thinly sliced and plenty of it, maybe 6-7 cloves. It’s not as aggressive as it sounds, but you definitely need to be a fan of the Vampire’s kryptonite. In this case, I also added bacon, which gave it a whole new level of smoky and salty depth. Another thing I added towards the end? A Parmesan cheese rind. Ohhh…the nutty, salty bite! Heaven. I really love cavatappi pasta for anything with a dense sauce, but feel free to use whatever pasta you like.

Cavatappi w/Bacon-Garlic Marinara

  • 3 strips of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 6-7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 28-oz can of whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato-water (using can from above)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 sprig fresh basil
  • Parmesan cheese rind
  • 3 cups Cavatappi pasta (I didn’t measure this, so I’m just guessing here)
  • Parmesan cheese for grating (optional but also not really)


  1. Wash your hands thoroughly. Pour the 28 oz can of tomatoes into a large bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hands. Set aside.
  2. In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, add the bacon pieces and cook for a few minutes until lightly browned. You don’t want the bacon to be crisp. Drain and set aside on paper towels. Pour out some of the bacon fat but leave a light layer in the skillet. Reserve the excess for those times when you just need some bacon fat.
  3. Add the olive oil and heat for 30 seconds or so. Add the garlic but DO NOT let it brown. You just want it to get a nice sizzle going.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes and the tomato water. Stir together gently and let the amazing aroma fill your nostrils with garlicky goodness.
  5. Add salt and oregano. We use less salt here than the original recipe because the bacon adds a decent amount of salt.
  6. Add the bacon back to the sauce and place the basil sprig on top of the sauce. As the basil starts to wilt, submerge into the sauce and stir. Cook for 10-15 mins.
  7. While the sauce is cooking, make the pasta. If you need help, it goes like this: boil water and throw in some salt…add pasta…cook 8-10 mins…drain pasta. You’re welcome.
  8. Add parm rind in the middle of the sauce and lower the heat to medium. Let the sauce continue to reduce to desired thickness.
  9. Remove the basil, spoon the sauce over the pasta, sprinkle some parm, and cradle a bowl in your lap while watching a good movie. Snowy scaries = gone.

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