Autumn Vegetable Carbonara
Carbonara, a classic pasta dish from Rome, is traditionally comprised of spaghetti, guanciale (cured pork jowl), eggs, pecorino, and plenty of black pepper. What is so wonderful about this egg-enriched sauce is how versatile it is for any pasta dish, particularly when paired with fantastic fall harvest vegetables. This recipe, courtesy of Chef Craig Flinn, can be made in less than 15 minutes, and all you really need to focus on is the gentle heating of the egg and cheese mixture in the pasta. Too much heat will curdle the eggs. Use any vegetables you like for this pasta … you can even use up leftover roasted squash, green beans, or asparagus.
- 4 ounces smoked bacon, pancetta, or guanciale
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 ounces finely grated pecorino cheese
- 2 ounces finely grated parmesan cheese (plus extra for garnish)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 10 ounces penne, fusilli, or other pasta of choice
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small green or yellow zucchini, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- ¼ cup blanched sweet peas
- 6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- Cut the bacon (or pancetta or guanciale if available) into ¼-inch lardons; fry until golden and crispy. Drain off excess oil and set aside.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs and cheese together with some freshly ground black pepper; set aside.
- Cook the penne in boiling salted water for 7 to 8 minutes, or following the instructions on the box; as the pasta cooks, begin the vegetables in a large non-stick sauté pan. Reserve the pasta water for later.
- Heat the olive oil and sauté the zucchini over high heat until slightly browned, then add in crushed garlic, spinach, and peas; cook for 1 minute. Season well with black pepper and a pinch of salt, if desired.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the cooked penne noodles along with 2 ounces of the pasta water. Add the sautéed vegetables, pre-cooked bacon, tomatoes, and the egg and cheese mixture. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold the pasta together, allowing the residual heat in the cooked penne and pasta water to thicken the egg sauce.
- Garnish with additional cheese, black pepper, and some chopped parsley.