Monday, June 1, 2015

Spring Carbonara

With a few rainy days in store, an abundance of eggs from the girls (whom I need to officially introduce to you all soon), and with my attempt to add fresh greens to everything, I decided June 1st was a good day to post an eggy pasta that was still spring-appropriate.

If you’re like me, you have these weird food rules: pasta is hearty and therefore isn’t the greatest post for the first day of June. It should be something fresh and garden-welcoming. However, I am way behind on posts and this tasted so good, I decided the fresh eggs and greens made it a spring pasta dish, and the dreary days validated its heartiness. So, there.

Two things: I have never made carbonara (or even eaten it), and I always make soup with my leftover veggies that I find hanging out in the long as they are not turning into a strange looking beer-like substance. (You know that brown puddle that forms in the bottom of the drawer if you leave greens in there for a few months? What? You don’t leave greens in your crisper for a few months? Way to live on the wild side.) So anyway, today, when I discovered leftover Swiss chard (BUT FRESH, AND SPRING-LIKE) and a half a leek in my crisper that was still looking…well, crisp, I decided it was time to woman-up and make something other than soup with these leftover veggies. Now, I understand pasta is almost as easy a way out as soup. But, being a pasta I’ve never concocted before makes this venture valid.

I researched several basic carbonara recipes and wrote down what generally goes into them. Basically, egg and cheese is what makes the traditional sauce, and all the recipes seem to have pancetta or bacon in them. I can see already that this dish is comfort food (aka- fatty fat fat), and I like it.

I decided that adding my oh-so spring-like veggies made this a “healthy” and “gourmet” comfort food, and therefore you can eat it whenever you’d like. You’re welcome.

Spring Carbonara
serves: 4 prep time: 15 min cook time: 25 min
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard (red, green, or rainbow) - about 4 cups
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, dark green leaves removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced, separated
  • 1/3 c. dry white wine
  • 12 oz dry tagliatelle
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 4 oz pancetta, sliced into strips
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Wash the Swiss chard and de-rib the leaves. Slice into ribbons. Set aside.

Slice the leek in half, and then again the long way. Rinse between each layer to remove any sand. Slice thinly.

In a tall-sided (3” or more) pan, bring water to a boil, salt, add the pasta and cook for the lowest suggested time on the package, as it will cook a bit more in the following steps. Drain in a colander, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Toss the colander every once in a while to keep the pasta loose until we are ready to incorporate it back into the sauce.

In the same pan, sauté leek on medium heat, in olive oil until soft, about 3 minutes. 

Add half of the garlic and continue to sauté for about 30 seconds, being careful not to brown the garlic.

Add the chard and wine, tossing to coat. Cover and let simmer until the wine has reduced to a thick sauce and the chard is wilted, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside. 

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Set aside.

Using the same pan, on medium heat, cook the pancetta until crispy and some fat has rendered, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the leek/chard mixture and combine, stirring up the brown bits, for 2 minutes.

Toss the pasta in the pan with the garlicky pancetta and greens and toss for 1-2 minutes, coating it in the sauce, working the noodles as you go to loosen them up and warm them.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, tossing and mixing constantly until the eggs thicken, being careful not to scramble them.

Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. 

Season the carbonara with the freshly ground black pepper. Top each serving with freshly chopped parsley and additional cheese.


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