Posts tagged ‘pasta’

October 17, 2012

Spring Vegetable Carbonara

The other night, I found myself on the bus home from the city dreaming of this dish. I mentally went through the contents of my cabinets and fridge and began building this dinner. I was soothed (yes, soothed!) by the simplicity of it, and excited for the flavors before I even got home.

To me, there’s nothing better than a big bowl of carbs after a long day. Pasta for dinner is a total triple threat: convenient, comforting and quick.

I realized that I don’t have many pasta dishes on this blog, which I guess is because I usually make pasta for dinner (real blogger talk: that means there’s no natural light to make it look pretty!) and it usually doesn’t follow any sort of recipe. I use whatever I have on-hand — a little of this, a little of that and then it’s eaten in a flash. That’s how pasta night works.

Pasta carbonara usually is involves pancetta or bacon in some form, which I, of course, encourage. But I thought I’d give you a vegetarian option to show another possibility for a simple, eggy carbonara sauce. I was even going to go so far as to call this Primavera Carbonara, but I think that’s confusing or too Italian or has too many A’s.

It’s slightly creamy, with a serious hit of salty Parmesan and an excessive amount of fresh ground pepper, topped with fresh spring asparagus and peas. (More real talk: the peas were actually from the freezer. No one dreams about shelling fresh peas at 6pm.)

AND this whole thing comes together in 20 minutes or less. It’s kind of the perfect weeknight dinner.

Spring Vegetable Carbonara
serves 2

- 220 grams or 8 ounces of the pasta of your choice
– 1 cup asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
– 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas thawed
– olive oil
– 2 cloves of garlic
– a pinch of chili flakes
– 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk
– a big handful of Parmesan, and more for garnishing
– salt & fresh ground pepper

Set a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add a generous sprinkling of salt and the pasta. Cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.

While the water is heating/pasta is cooking, get going on the vegetables.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add garlic and chili and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add asparagus and peas and cook until just tender – about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.

Whisk the egg and egg white in a large bowl. Add Parmesan and lots of ground black pepper.

Once the pasta is cooked, reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. It’s time to work quickly now! Pour the hot pasta in the bowl with the egg and Parmesan. Toss vigorously to coat the pasta (the heat of the pasta cooks the egg.) Add your asparagus and peas and toss again. If the sauce is a little thick, add a tablespoon of the pasta water at a time, to thin it out. (I didn’t have to do that this time.)

Serve immediately, with more Parmesan sprinkled on top, if desired.

Tips:
– Make sure the eggs are at room temperature

- Generously salt your pasta water – it gives it flavor
- Set a timer for your pasta – it may seem silly, but I love perfectly cooked pasta and hate to risk it!
- Work quickly once you drain your pasta – it has to be warm enough to partially cook the eggs, thickening them into a sauce.

About these ads
January 25, 2012

Broccoli and Roasted Garlic Pesto

+ Green Veg-Packed Pasta with Chorizo

I feel like sometimes I don’t let broccoli live up to its full potential.

This, however, is not about one of those times.

I had a big bunch of steamed broccoli sitting in a Tupperware container in my fridge, which I had the vague intention of throwing into salads over the next couple of days. But something just didn’t feel right. I decided I needed to do something special with that broccoli.

Pesto is special. So are dips. And so is roasted garlic. Let’s do it, I said (to myself, in my head). Let’s blend that broccoli with soft, sweet roasted garlic cloves, salty Parmesan, fresh basil and some spicy chilli flakes and find many glorious uses for this combination.

So I did. And it was (glorious).

I spread my broccoli pesto on toast with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan. I had it on some crackers with a slice of tomato and little hot sauce. And I put it on spiralini pasta with peas, wilted spinach, and crispy pieces of chorizo – which was possibly the most excellent use to date.

I still have yet to try it on a baked potato, on a grilled cheese sandwich, or as a topping for some grilled fish – but I’m looking forward to all those things!

Broccoli & Roasted Garlic Pesto/Spread
– 1 1/2 cups of broccoli, steamed
– 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
– 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
– 6-8 roasted garlic cloves (outer husks removed)
– pinch of red chili flakes
– salt & pepper

To steam broccoli: place in vegetable steamer over boiling water and cook covered for 4-5 minutes, until soft but still bright green.

To roast garlic: Take an entire head of garlic and cut off the base (the woody end). Place on an oiled  piece of aluminum foil (big enough to wrap the garlic in) and stand the bulb upright on its newly trimmed bottom. Loosely wrap the bulb in foil and place on the oven rack.  Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 200 C/400 F oven until your garlic cloves take on a caramelized color. Squeeze garlic out of their dry husks to use.

For pesto: Place all the ingredients in the food processor and puree. If it’s too thick, add a little more olive oil. I kept mine on the thicker side, so it was more of a spread to start out with.

This should keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Or you can freeze it in small portions and thaw as needed.

Green Veg-Packed Pasta with Chorizo
I didn’t include amounts here, as I think you can judge how much of each ingredient you’d like. I will say that I used about a cup of  fresh spinach for each serving. I also ended up topping my pasta with only a tablespoon or tablespoon and a half of the diced chorizo. Because it’s so flavorful, I don’t need very much – but that’s just me. 
What you need:
– Pasta (I used a spiral kind, because I thought it would catch the flavors more)
– Peas, cooked
– Spinach
– Broccoli Pesto
– Chorizo sausage, diced into small pieces
– Parmesan, grated, to garnish

Cook pasta in salted boiling water for about 8 minutes, until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, brown the chorizo in a medium pan over a medium-high heat (no need to oil the pan, the chorizo has enough fat going on). Once browned (about 5 minutes) remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan add a little olive oil and wilt the spinach down over a medium heat (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and add broccoli pesto and peas.

When the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving some of the pasta water. Toss pasta in the pan with the pesto, spinach and peas – adding a little pasta water to thin the pesto out and help the sauce stick to the pasta. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, to prevent from making it too watery.

Serve in bowls with diced chorizo and grated Parmesan on top.

November 11, 2011

5 Ingredient Friday: Spaghetti Carbonara

image

I love everything about Spaghetti Carbonara. I love the way a short list of ingredients come together to form something just right. And how crispy bites of pork weaved through perfectly cooked pasta cannot fail to make me happy and comforted, even if I didn’t need any comforting in the first place.

Some people use cream , among other things to make a Carbonara, but I prefer a simple (and more authentically Roman – for brownie points) approach, which makes for a lighter feeling dish.

I made my Spaghetti Carbonara with only five ingredients (if you will allow me the salt, pepper and olive oil for free):

Serves 2
– spaghetti
– 1/2 cup chopped pancetta (or thick cut bacon)
– 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
– 2 eggs
– garlic
And ok, I cheated with a 6th: some parsley if you’ve got it. (But I’m trying to adhere to my new Friday theme day, damnit!)

Heat oil in a pan and add the pancetta. Add the chopped garlic after a few minutes and continue to cook until your pancetta is nice and crispy.

Add your pasta to a pot of boiling (salted) water and cook for about 8 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, whisk eggs, Parmesan and a generous (I went for more-than-generous) grinding of pepper together in a large bowl.

Once the pasta is done, drain it quickly (it’s ok if there is still a little water with it) and transfer to the large bowl with the egg mixture. Add the pancetta and parsley and toss extremely well to combine. This tossing step is the most important – the heat from the pasta melts the cheese and cooks the egg, which makes the sauce.

…And you’re good to go! Serve immediately with a simple green salad to balance out all that beautiful fatty pork and salty cheese. Happy Friday!

%d bloggers like this: