Saturday, 14 August 2010

Courgette Carbonara (that is better than Jamie's)

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
1 courgette
50g cubetti di pancetta
2 eggs
handful of parmesan cheese
black pepper

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.


Suelle said...

Clever Mother! I love the idea of cooking treats for yourself which you wouldn't normally make while Paul was around - I'm sure you'll think of more in time.

The pasta looks good, but I think I'd prefer the courgettes in larger pieces than grating it gives. It would make it more different to a normal carbonara in terms of texture.

Jude said...

I have a courgette mountain. Unfortunately I have a husband who won't eat eggs and who isn't due to be away again for 49 weeks.

However this looks good for a Green Day in Slimming World which I am resuming in September. So I am saving it, thanks.

You need to have the beefburger or the Fritto Misto when we go to Jamie's Italian at Westfield next week!

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

I can not go to a restaurant anymore without finding a dish i want to take a crack at... love to do restaurant recreations.

BTW, Judith Jones, julia Child's long time editor has written a book on the pleasures of cooking for one. Very useful, even though I cook for my wife and myself. Try it out from the library first, as it has an old style feel to it, and has been occasionally poorly reviewed for being out of date. But I loved the use of leftovers she suggests to justify an elaborate dish for just herself.

Su-Lin said...

I do struggle to cook for one too, now that I'm used to two. Love the look of your courgette pasta though!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Sue - I partly grated it for speed of cooking. Otherwise I think you are right and larger pieces would add a good texture.

Jude - Oh that's already decided! I am having the burger.

Dave - your restaurant recreations always look great!

Su-Lin - I know! I used to cook for one all the time, I wish I could remember what I ate.

MrOrph said...

i had to google courgette. looks like a zucchini squash.

i really don't have a problem cooking for one, although i rarely get a chance to do it. when i do, that's when i get a chance to really experiment. (and fail)

love the look of this carbonara. it truly is one of my favorite dishes.

Dharm said...

Good for you for doing better than Jamie!! Your carbonara looks really lovely and i like the idea of courgettes with it! Super!

The Cat's Mother said...

This is my sort of "cooking for one" - not sure about eating out of the saucepan though.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Don - yes, courgette is zucchini! Apparently it depends whether the French or Italians first introduced it into your cuisine.

Dharm - thanks!

Mother - Means you don't miss out on any of the sauce! I know, it took me a long time to come around to them. But I will never eat another steamed one!

Unknown said...

Totally cooking that this week!

Jenny said...

oh, excellent idea. I have lots of courgettes from my veg box as well. This will definitely appear later in the week.
BTW, the aracini at Jamies are very good. I found the squid rather disappointing (5 rings in total!).

Alicia Foodycat said...

Emily - I hope you like it!

Jenny - I thought the squid was very nicely cooked, the mushroom starter is lovely too.

Jenny said...

It was nicely cooked but a rather meagre portion in comparison to the other dishes. 5 bite sized rings...

I did the carbonara last night. Loved it. It will replace my normal carbonara in summer. The extra courgette really lifted the whole dish.

hungryandfrozen said...

Good on you! I love carbonara...and love the idea of a whole bowl to myself while alone! your version of Jamie's recipe sounds delicious :D

kat said...

Well, Im glad you improved upon it because it sounds like a great dish

Alicia Foodycat said...

Jenny - I think the portion I got was bigger and had bits of tentacle too! The courgette really makes it, doesn't it. And makes it feel virtuous.

Laura - maybe next time Tim is working late?

Foodjunkie said...

Hy hubby feels the same way about eggs, but he likes carbonara. This is a nice summery version.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Jamie watch out! I do the same--end up finding dishes I know I could do better at home. This looks like a great way to use up all that summer squash. ;-)

Alicia Foodycat said...

Jo - the courgette really does make such a difference.

Deb - Pity it only uses 1 per person! ;)


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