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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Bacon crown jewel in spaghetti dish

Thursday, November 11, 1999

Tested by Suzanne Martinson

Today's Countdown recipe for Spaghetti Pronto is the creation of Lucy V. Karnek of Cherry Valley, Washington County, and her late husband, Steve.

"My husband and I always cooked a lot," says Karnek. "We had different tastes, but we were always experimenting with different ingredients. He loved to cook."

Neither started out with the name Karnek. Lucy, whose maiden name was Venturini, has lived all her life in Cherry Valley, though her parents were from Italy. Two weeks before the Karneks got reacquainted -- they'd known each other in school -- her husband, who was of Polish descent, had changed his name from Krznovcke.

"He said it was too long," she recalls. "He was in the Navy, and he said they always spelled it wrong."

Steve Karnek, who died 11 years ago, was a construction foreman and she is retired after 5 1/2 years at Washington National in Burgettstown, which was purchased by Mellon Bank. The Karneks have one son, Steven Karnek.

The cookbook from the PG will join an extensive collection.

"I have quite a list of cookbooks, but I'm always looking for new ones," Karnek says. "I have over 100 -- little ones and big ones. Whatever sounds good, I buy."

This original recipe couldn't be simpler, and it came together in about 17 minutes. For the leftovers, we took a page from Chris "WQED Cooks" Fennimore's book and made "fried spaghetti" just by pouring a little olive oil in the frying pan and reheating the spaghetti in it until it was slightly crunchy. Lucy Karnek says she's done that, too.

Spaghetti Pronto

1/2 pound cooked and drained spaghetti
7 to 8 strips crispy-fried bacon, drained, broken in small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 of green sweet pepper, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced or chopped fine
1/2 cup drained pitted black olives (canned)

Sauté onion, green pepper and garlic lightly in 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter. (We used olive oil, but will use the full amount next time, to better coat the spaghetti.) Add spaghetti and bacon pieces (she uses a cast-iron skillet; we cooked the bacon in the microwave). Stir and add olives. Serve with a dusting of grated cheese if desired.

Note: Lucy Karnek likes to serve this dish with a good Italian bread and salad.

Do you have an entrée, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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