Recipe: Bacon & olive pasta

If I’ve been quiet lately it’s probably because I’ve been shoving my entire life into two large suitcases and making my big move to London. I don’t think it fully sunk in for me that I was actually moving to London until I landed at Heathrow airport and we began the slow process of disembarking off the plane. Then, I naturally had a bit of a panic attack before pulling myself together at the luggage carousal and vowing to ‘keep calm and carry on’.

Emigrating is no small feat. It requires endless amounts of time and energy that actually, no one person can be expected to have. I’ve been rushing around like a headless (and maybe even wingless) chicken, trying to build my IKEA furniture (literally one of the worst tasks in the entire world), sort out health insurance, figure out the tube system and somehow still pop into Sainsbury’s to buy groceries so that I can somehow find time to cook and feed myself. In times like these, bulk amounts of tasty pasta is my go-to. Mainly because even if you only intend to make enough pasta for one person for one meal – it never happens. You will always have more pasta than you intended and in my opinion, this is never a bad thing really.

So on Sunday morning I popped out to my local Tesco (there are more supermarket chains here than I know what to do with) and stocked up on smoked lardons (lovely thick cubes of smoked bacon that I struggled to find in Johannesburg), glossy black de-pitted olives, fresh vine tomatoes, brown onions with crackly skin, garlic cloves and a few other goodies that I didn’t really need but had to have just because they were new and exciting to me – like Warbutons sandwich thins, as unimpressive as they may sound.

I’m sharing a lovely flat right by the Baron’s Court tube station with two other people (both working, both really nice) who both tend to come home rather late during the week; which is great because I then get the run of the kitchen in the early evenings. On Sunday evening, with one flatmate in Spain on holiday and the other out for the night, I blasted some music and made three Tupperware-loads of my favourite bacon and olive pasta. This pasta keeps really well in the fridge for up to a week, and can be refreshed with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan before serving. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or equally great for a generous Sunday family lunch.


Bacon & Olive Pasta

Serves 4-6 people, or 1 person for a week



3 cups of any short pasta- I like fusilli or penne for this

¾ cup smoked bacon lardons, or just smoked bacon cut into strips

3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

½ cup de-pitted black olives, cut in half

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 brown onion, peeled and finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely diced

1 large red (or yellow or orange) pepper, roughly chopped into small pieces

¼ cup warm tap water

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon mixed / Italian herbs

1 teaspoon sea salt (and more to salt your pasta water)

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes

Grated parmesan for serving  



In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat

Add in the diced onion and the bacon lardons and allow to cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden and the bacon’s fat is beginning to brown

Add in the diced garlic and a little salt and pepper

Allow to cook until the bacon is just slightly crisp around the edges

Remove the onion / bacon / garlic mixture from the pot and decant into a bowl – making sure to leave some of the bacon drippings in the pot

Put the pot back onto the stove and add in the diced red pepper and the sliced olives

Season with some of the paprika, mixed herbs and chilli flakes (not all of it)

Sauté until almost soft

Add back in the bacon and onion mixture and stir to combine

Now add in the roughly chopped tomato, the ¼ cup of tap water and the rest of the spices and herbs, stir to combine

Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed

Turn the heat down, put the lid onto the pot and allow the sauce to simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the tomato has disintegrated and you have a thick, gorgeous sauce

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of hot, generously salted water to the boil

Add in your pasta and cook until al dente

Drain the pasta and then add the pasta to the pot of sauce (never vice-versa)

Stir gently to combine

Serve steaming hot with a generous amount of parmesan cheese

Store the remaining pasta in airtight Tupperware in the fridge

When you want to re-heat it, do so in the microwave for 2 minutes and stir through a little olive oil once it’s heated before serving with more cheese

Enjoy for a whole week!


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