By Heather Quinlan

The Police once sang, “When the world is running down, you make the best of what’s still around.” Perhaps they were talking about leftovers? I know I have tremendous respect for those who can turn random ingredients into something that amuses my bouche. I want to be you!

One step I’ve taken in that direction is a series I’ll be working on, called 5-Ingredient Dinners. (I’ll aim to keep it to stuff you already have in your kitchen as much as possible.) Through trial and (much) error, I’ve discovered that some of the best dishes don’t need anything else. And when I was going through a breakup and couldn’t put two thoughts together, five ingredients was about the most I could handle.

I want to start with a tried-and-true recipe, and I’ve set the bar kind of high with Martha Stewart. She does a spaghetti with pancetta that’ll knock your socks off. I’m partial to anything pasta and bacon-y, so this was a win-win.

Spaghetti with Pancetta, Green Beans and Basil
8 oz. spaghetti
4 oz. pancetta (or 4 slices of bacon)
3/4 pound green beans (stem ends removed)
grated Parmesan – however much you want
a handful of basil leaves, roughly torn

1) Boil spaghetti in salted water until al dente; save 1 cup
2) While spaghetti is boiling, brown the pancetta in a skillet – it should take about the same amount of time to cook as the spaghetti. Transfer it to a paper towel to drain.
And don’t forget – don’t pour the grease down the drain, or you may clog it. Then you’ll have to get Liquid Plumr and you’ll never cook this again. Instead, pour the grease into a mug or something that can withstand the heat.
3) Add the green beans to the skillet; cover and cook about 5 minutes.
4) Transfer the green beans to the cooked and drained spaghetti. Mix in the pancetta, lotsa Parmesan and reserved water. Dish onto the plate and top with basil. And more Parmesan.