When Paul went away in March, and I was whinging about cooking for one, my mother suggested having little treats that he isn't so keen on. It took a while for me to think of anything that I really like and he doesn't (maybe desserts) but I finally settled on something. Spaghetti carbonara. He really doesn't like runny eggyolks, so anything reminiscent of lightly-cooked egg gets the thumbs down. Spaghetti carbonara also has the virtue of being extremely quick to prepare and easy to eat, so I am pretty much having it once a week while he is working in Durham.
A couple of months ago, I had dinner with a friend at the new Jamie's Italian in Covent Garden. I was enticed by the "Beautiful bucatini carbonara", described as Tubular spaghetti with crispy fried smoked pancetta and ribbons of courgettes, tossed with eggs, thyme and Parmesan cheese. Only disappointing dish of the night, unfortunately. And boy WHAT a disappointment! Undercooked pasta swimming in salty cream, with a couple of thick batons of floppy courgette.
But I still felt that the idea was worthy of exploration, so I decided to have a go myself and see if I could do better. And as it happens, I could. It's not vastly different to any other carbonara recipe, but it is good.
Courgette Carbonara (for one)
Handful of wholewheat spaghetti
knob of butter
clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
50g cubetti di pancetta
handful of parmesan cheese
While the pasta boils, grate the courgette. While the pasta drains, saute the courgette, pancetta and garlic in the butter until the courgette starts to wilt and the pancetta starts to crisp. While that is happening, beat the eggs in a small bowl with the parmesan and a lot of black pepper.
Return the pasta to the pan, swirling it around to get it well-coated with the garlicky courgette and bacon mixture. When it starts to sizzle, pour the egg and cheese mixture over it and remove from the heat. Eat out of the saucepan, to reduce washing up.