Pasta Spinach Salad

8 ounces pasta (bowtie, penne, or other favorite)
1/2 pound bacon (optional)*
4 roma tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 pound fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 can (15 oz.) white beans (great northern, etc), drain
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup (4 oz.) mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes

Cook pasta according to package direction. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool, drain again.

While pasta is cooking, chop bacon (bacon is optional*) and scramble fry until crisp. Drain excess fat, remove bacon and blot on paper towel. Use a paper towel to blot out excess fat in fry pan. Add chopped tomatoes and crushed garlic to bacon pan. Cook and stir until tomatoes are slightly soft (about 2 minutes). Add drained beans and chopped spinach, stir. Continue to cook just until spinach wilts, stirring constantly. Cool, but don’t refrigerate.

Combine chopped basil, cooked pasta, tomato mixture, and crumbled bacon. Toss with cheeses. Salad is good served room temperature or cold. Do not leave salad at room temperature longer than 2 hours, refrigerate.

*Note: Bacon will increase fat content from approximately 4 grams per serving to approximately 10 grams per serving. It does add a nice smoky flavor to the salad, but is not necessary for a great taste.

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