Author Colu Henry uses fridge and pantry staples to create unexpected and flavorful recipes. These recipes are adapted with permission from her new book, Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly.
Author Colu Henry loves taking vegetables to the edge by roasting until they are deeply browned and caramelized, giving them great texture and amping up their flavor. The feta cheese emulsifies in the pasta water, creating a velvety sauce for the pasta.
Sweet crabmeat, sautéed fennel, and lots of herbs create a fresh and easy dish. Because this pasta toss is light and delicately flavored, it's perfect for warmer weather. Feel free to "back pocket" your way around this dish, subbing shrimp or a flaky white fish for the crab and playing with other herbs like tarragon, chives, and chervil.
Slab bacon lets you get a thicker dice than presliced bacon that will hold its own in the pasta; if it's hard for you to find, just use thick-cut sliced bacon. Peppery watercress wilts well yet maintains a little crunch. It also adds a nice savory note, balancing the sweetness of the tomatoes and the saltiness of the bacon. Arugula would also work.
Leftover flat-leaf parsley is likely lurking in your crisper. This unassuming herb has a bright, grassy personality that, combined with cheese, garlic, and good olive oil, makes this dish sing. Try embellishing with lemon zest, toasted nuts, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, or even sardines.