Weekly Winner: Glorious Green Goodness with just a tad of decadence.

carbonaraThere is nothing more comforting than a creamy, luxurious bowl of pasta– especially since winter is still going strong here in Chicago.  While I may be dreaming of  glorious spring vegetables that will eventually take over the markets, right now I need more sustenance and comfort than a light, springy pasta.  Enter: Pea and Spinach Carbonara.

The recipe comes from Eating Well magazine and is super easy and gives you a hint of springtime flavor.  It is also really quick to make,  which leaves you plenty of time to put on an extra layer, find the throw blanket and curl up on the couch!

Pea & Spinach Carbonara

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1-1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 small clove garlic, minced

8 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, divided

3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

3 large egg yolks

1 large egg

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 9-oz package fresh tagliatelle or linguine

8 cups baby spinach

1 cup peas

Procedure:

  1. Put 10 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add breadcrumbs and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until toasted, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan and parsley.  Set aside
  3. Whisk the remaining 6 tablespoons Parmesan, egg yolks, egg, pepper and salt in medium bowl.
  4. Cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.  Add spinach and peas and cook until the pasta is tender, about 1 minute more. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water.  Drain and place in a large bowl.
  5. Slowly whisk the reserved cooking water into the egg mixture. Gradually add the mixture to the pasta, tossing with tongs to combine.  Serve topped with the reserved breadcrumb mixture

Weekly Winner: Corny Carbonara with a Kick

If I absolutely HAD to pick a favorite pasta dish (which would be like choosing your favorite child, or favorite cheese – yeah, impossible!) I would say pasta carbonara would have to be it.  If I’m at a restaurant that has pasta carbonara on the menu, there is a very good chance I’m going to order it. I am not, however, a purist when it comes to carbonara.  I have no problems with tinkering as long as the basic components are there: string pasta (preferably bucatini) egg yolk, bacon or pancetta, and a sprinkling of parmesan.

So when I came across this recipe for Spicy Corn Carbonara on Pure Wow, I was hooked.  This is so good.  Not only good, downright luscious.  I imagine it will only be better this summer when the local fresh corn is at its peak.  Regardless, I will be making this — a lot.  While some homes have “house wines” or “house salads”… this will be my new “house pasta”  Bon Appetito!

Spicy Corn Carbonara

Serves 6 (so they say, however in our house it was more like 4 servings)

Ingredients:

4 ears corn

2 strips bacon, diced

1 red onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 lb bucatini (or spaghetti or linguini, but bucatini is best)

2 large egg yolks

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Chives for serving

Procedure:

  1. Cut the corn off the cob with a sharp knife. Transfer kernels to a bowl and firmly scrape the knife against the cob to release any liquid.  Discard the cobs.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and it’s very crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  3. Add the red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s tender, about 4 minutes. Add the corn and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Season with the salt and red pepper flakes and reserve over low heat.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.  Scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  5. Stir the pasta water into the corn mixture.  Raise heat to medium and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.  Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. Add to the skillet and toss well to coat.  Add the Parmesan, plenty of black pepper and reserved bacon and toss to combine.  Garnish with the chives.

 

Weekly Winner: The I-Can’t-Believe-There’s-No-Dairy Carbonara

faux carbonaraPasta Carbonara is one of my all time favorite dishes in the world.  Oooey, Goooey pasta tossed with eggs, cheese, sometimes some cream.  What’s not to like?  Well, OK, the calories, the fat content, etc… but you gotta admit, it’s awfully tasty!

So when I saw this recipe for “Carbonara” in Bon Appetit, let’s just say I was skeptical at best.  But the picture sure was pretty.  And I do like butternut squash.  And it kept the pancetta.  So why not take it for a spin.

It was amazing!!  Rich beyond comprehension considering the ingredients.  Luscious, creamy, (creamy!! how can it be creamy??) and totally satisfying.  I immediately sent the recipe to my good friend whose husband can’t eat dairy and said “You must try this”!  Seriously, even if you are a dairy fiend like me you won’t miss it.  It is a guilt-free version of a very guilt-laden favorite.

Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 2-pound kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2″ pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 ounces fettuccine or linguine
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino, plus shaved for serving

Instructions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Add sage and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta and sage to a small bowl; set aside.

Add squash, onion, and garlic to skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 8–10 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Reserve skillet.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Combine pasta, squash purée, and 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid in reserved skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Mix in 1/4 cup Pecorino; season with salt and pepper.

Serve pasta topped with reserved pancetta and sage, shaved Pecorino, and more pepper.