Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When in Rome

I am the biggest fan of creamy, fatty pastas. As if the starch in the noodles wasn't enough, I like to "go big or go home" and let my pasta swim in a giant pool of heavy cream-based sauce. This was the exact reason why I was so surprised I would actually like carbonara seeing as there isn't really cream in this dish. Carbonara is traditionally from Rome, with a pancetta, egg, pecorino or parmeggiano, and pepper base). Sure, there's the fat from the egg, but can we just say that it's protein for the sake of this post?

For the impatient cook, like me, this was possibly the best thing I could have prepared, let alone eaten. You can make any combination of this depending on what's in your fridge and what you like to have in your pasta. The main "sauce" is just egg and Parmesan mixed together until it forms a thick paste of sorts. As your pasta components (mine were leek and shiitake mushrooms from the Hollygrove Farmer's Market produce box) saute, all you do is dump your cooked noodles in the skillet and pour the egg and cheese mixture over everything and stir to thoroughly combine it all. The whole thing comes together and it's kind of a miracle. A really cheap miracle.

There are many variations of this, and the recipe I used was from How Sweet Eats (yup, same person I got the Bailey's double fudge cookies from). You know what would've made this a million times better? If I had bacon. Not sure if it's still technically carbonara without that salty, delicious cut of meat, but I'm sticking to it.

Spinach, Shiitake, and Leek Carbonara

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yields: 2-3 servings

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + extra for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and patted dry
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, diced

1-2 cups baby spinach
1/2 lb whole wheat linguine
2 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Bring water for pasta to a boil. Meanwhile heat a large skillet oven medium-low heat and saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in leeks with a pinch of salt, then toss mushrooms on top. Stir everything together to coat, then let cook until ingredients are softened – about 5 minutes. At this time, throw the pasta in the water to cook – it is really important that the pasta is hot. While the pasta is cooking, mix eggs and cheese together in a large bowl. The mixture will be thick.
As soon as pasta is finished, reserve 1/2-3/4 cup liquid, drain pasta and immediately throw into the skillet. Toss with the leeks and mushrooms to coat, then remove from heat. Add the baby spinach and the heat should wilt the greens. With a large spoon in one hand, add the egg mixture right on top and immediately begin stirring the pasta together. Make sure the pasta is thoroughly coated with the egg mixture. At this time if desired, add the pasta water to the skillet to make things a bit more creamy and saucy. Drizzle with extra olive oil if desired and grind some black pepper on top. Serve immediately with extra cheese.




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  2. Bacon or no bacon, this sounds delicious! Great rendition =)