Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Summer Vegetable Spaghetti Carbonara

I have been thinking all day about what I should cook as my first blog post. Should I do something exciting and original to start this off with a bang or maybe something wickedly decadent to pique people's interest? In the end I decided that I would turn to an old cupboard standby which has served me well and saved my bacon more than once when unexpected guests have arrived.  Mainly though, I just fancied a tasty supper of al dente pasta, smooth creamy pasta just waiting to be slurped up lady & the tramp style studded with sweet summery veg. Who could say no to such a simple and comforting dish!

As a teenager I used to make this dish with fake bacon but now I don't bother with fake meats and  frankly  this dish tastes better without it.  Most summer vegetables will work in this recipe so feel free to experiment with whatever is to hand or in season. Anything that will fry up and braise into a sweet nugget of vegetable heaven is a winner such as delicate asparagus spears, baby spinach, courgettes (zucchini), petite pois, young broad (fava) beans, leeks and tenderstem broccoli.

As my partner likes to eat meat , I normally make two portions of this and spilt it into two at the point of serving up by adding half the spaghetti and sauce to the fried bacon or pancetta pan and then stirring in all the bacony juices and fat to add flavour.

Summer Vegetable Spaghetti Carbonara (serves 2 generously)
Dairy Free, Vegetarian or Meat options

200g Dried Spaghetti (Gluten free if required)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup White Wine or water
I small leek thinly chopped
1 small courgette (zucchini) quartered and cubed
2 large handfuls spinach leaves
2 teaspoons fresh herbs (I used basil)
1 bunch asparagus spears
1/2 cup frozen petite pois
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 stock cube (ensure is gluten free)
2 medium eggs
salt & pepper to taste

Optional- for non- vegetarian
3 rashers bacon or pancetta cut into strips (Omit from vegetarian version)
1 handful of grated parmesan (omit for dairy free)

  • Put a large pan of salted water to boil on the hob.
  • In the meantime cut the vegetables up into bit size pieces. I quartered the courgette and sliced into chunks. Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to a large frying pan and heat over a medium flame. Add the vegetables and garlic to the pan and saute until soft then add the stock cube and white wine/water and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and the vegetables are soft, plump and glossy.
  • Once the water is boiling add spaghetti and cook according to instructions on packet, typically for 8-10 mins.
  • If using bacon, saute bacon/pancetta in a separate pan for 5 mins until browned and releasing its fat into the pan.
  • Break eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat, season with salt and pepper and add fresh chopped herbs.
  • Drain pasta once it is al dente and add to the pan of vegetables.Switch off the heat and add the egg mixture and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the pasta and stir in. Keep stirring to prevent the eggs scrambling. Be gentle if using gluten free pasta as it is more fragile than standard pasta.
  • Allow sauce to cook from the heat of the pasta and the residual heat of the pan. It should coat the pasta and turn creamy and glossy.
  • Add bacon and parmesan to pasta mix for the meat version and serve immediately.

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