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Chef to the Rescue: Brian Clevenger's Spaghetti with Tomato, Bacon and Red Onion

When you're cooking have you ever had that moment when you ask yourself 'am I doing this right'? You're not alone! So, we asked some of our favorite chefs to send us a recipe, then jump on a video conference and talk us through how to make it. Along the way, they're sharing some restaurant secrets to take your kitchen skills to the next level. For this edition of Chef to the Rescue, we're making Brian Clevenger's spaghetti with tomato, bacon and red onion. Clevenger is the owner of six celebrated spots throughout Seattle including Vendemmia, GH Pasta Co. and Haymaker. He's a pasta master, so it's no surprise this light, fresh spaghetti is a perfect plate of fall comfort food.

Brian's Tips for Success with this Recipe:

1) Don't season your pasta water.
"I know people will be like 'wow'. We season our pasta. We don't season our water because we use that water as the base of our sauce and if you're not careful it can get really salty."

2) Render the bacon in a cold pan not one that's been preheated. That way the fat is able to fully render before it burns.

3) Remove your pan from the heat before you add pasta water.
"Anything that's on high heat with oils and fats, when you introduce water, you could see fire. So, if you remove it from the heat, that won't happen."

Spaghetti with Tomato, Bacon and Red Onion

Recipe by: Brian Clevenger


  • 5 oz fresh spaghetti
  • 1 ea small heirloom tomato
  • 1/2 ea red onion (sliced)
  • 1 ea cloves garlic (sliced)
  • 2 ea pieces of bacon (cut into pieces)
  • Parmesan (grated)
  • 1 oz butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chili Flake
  • 1t olive oil
  • 1/4t fresh marjoram (can substitute fresh basil)
  • Tomato Sauce (Recipe Follows)


Add bacon and olive oil to a cold sauce pan and turn to medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes or until bacon begins to render. Add 1T butter and red onions and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and continue to cook until it begins to turn brown. Remove pan from heat and add tomato sauce. Add cooked spaghetti and 1C pasta water and return to medium high heat. Season with salt, pepper and chili flake. Test the doneness of the pasta. If still to al' dente, add more pasta water and cook. Add half of the grated parmesan and mix until combined. If the dish is too dry, add more pasta water. If too loose, continue to cook. Season one more time, add marjoram and plate. Garnish with remaining parmesan.

Tomato Sauce


  • 1 quart plum tomato in liquid
  • 1 ea white onion (diced)
  • 3 large garlic cloves (diced)
  • 3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Heat olive oil and 1t salt in a non-reactive pot on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and turn to medium high. Continue to cook until vegetables are translucent. Turn heat off and add tomatoes. Turn back to medium high and cook. Make sure to stir every 2 minutes to avoid burning. Finish with fresh cracked pepper.