Pasta Carbonara Flavour with added Green Goodness
Pasta carbonara – all that creamy deliciousness! Pasta Carbonara was first introduced to me by my friend/housemate Janice. This was her “signature dish” and back in the day we were slim enough to enjoy rather regularly. These days it has been relegated to one of two categories: a comfort food treat; or a “quickie” meal. Adding in the greens is a sneaky was of me feeling less guilty about the pleasure of eating it. And can I say, I very much enjoy the sweet pop of the peas against the salty crunch of the bacon and the creamy dreamy sauce.
Yesterday was not a day in need of comfort but rather an “I don’t want to leave the comfort of the air con” day. With Ted away at work, it was just me and the boys, so the “sell” of Pasta Carbonara was an easy one. Add in that it had been a rowing morning with a 4 am start, and this dinner can be started and on the table in under 20 minutes, and the choice was made. Sharing because I’m hearing from other mums that they are also tired and needing some inspiration. Meal can easily be expanded by adding extra eggs and cream to the sauce, and of course, more veg.
Start by popping water on to boil in a large pot. Get all the other ingredients ready to go because this meal whips up very quickly (perfect one for boys to try to make – just saying!) Chop up a couple of rashers of bacon into thin strips or a dice. Mince 2 cloves of garlic, thinly slice a small zucchini, grab some frozen peas and a couple of handfuls of spinach. Finely grate some parmesan and you are about ready:
If you are a vego, leave out the bacon. Also consider other veg options – I’m thinking asparagus and mushrooms would be a grand addition. Given that my boys eat neither of those, I chose not to add in, and therefore avoided the dismay of seeing beautiful produce pushed to the side of the plate. Big sigh. I choose to use whole eggs and cream. Many recipes call for just yolks, but I don’t like the wastage. Up to you. Also, a traditional italian recipe would not have cream. Ask Mr L who ordered in Milan and got a very dry and different version of Pasta Carbonara !
Mix the eggs cream and parmesan in a bowl or jug and season with salt and pepper. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. I used fresh pasta (confession – it was bought) as it cooks quicker. If you have dried, just allow extra cooking time. Cook pasta, and remember to retain 1/2 cup pasta water.
In a large heated pan, add oil and cook bacon until becoming crisp. Add in garlic and zucchini and cook for a further few minutes. Add in peas and spinach and stir until cooked through and wilted.
Once pasta is cooked, add to the pan of veg. I don’t drain first. Remove pan from heat and stir through the egg and cream mixture, adding in some pasta water to bring make a smooth creamy sauce. (I find about 1/4 cup is usually enough – this might vary with the size of you eggs)
Serve immediately with a sprinkling of extra parmesan cheese. Ideally a sprig of basil on top would complete the picture, but my chickens got into the herb garden and ate mine. Trust me – some basil tastes great but the world did not stop revolving without it and of course the boys rejoiced that was a little less greenery on the plate!!
- 375g fresh pasta
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 200g bacon, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 100g (1 small) zucchini, thinly sliced
- 50 g spinach leaves (couple of handfuls)
- ½ cup green peas
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup cream
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup basil leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
- Pop a large pot of water on to boil and cook pasta and retain ½ cup of pasta water
- Heat large fry pan. Add oil and cook bacon until starting to crisp. Add zucchini and garlic and cook a further few minutes. Mix cream, eggs and parmesan together in a bowl or jug. Add peas and spinach to pan and stir until spinach wilts.
- Remove pan from heat and add cooked pasta. Stir through cream and egg mix until all the pasta is coated. Add pasta water as needed to bring the sauce to the creamy consistency that you desire (usually ¼ cup is sufficient)
- Serve immediately in warmed bowls and top with basil leave and extra parmesan cheese
Other vegetables such as asparagus or mushrooms can be added