Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spaghetti alla Carbonara without Bacon!

I was recently back in Boston, and I got yelled at for not blogging much since moving to California.  My defense was that I've been cooking pretty boring stuff, mostly simple salads with a side of pasta.  However, friends said they missed the food pics, so I decided to find a dinner to write about.

Before writing about the new pasta recipe I tried, I just wanted to take a minute and say that California produce has been a revelation!  In particular, fresh figs are amazing! My officemate bought a pint of figs at our hospital farmers' market, and I asked her what she would do with them.  She looked at me quizzically and said, "Just eat them."  I bought a pint for myself the following week.  Not sure I would be able to use all of them, I offered them around the office and was surprised when one person took one and bit into it.  I didn't know you could just bite into figs!  I had seen figs in jams and spreads as well as roasted in dishes, but for some reason, I thought they needed to be cooked or peeled or something.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that they are delicious on their own right from the market.  Figs are now one of my favorite salad accents.

I've been making a lot of pestos, but I flipped through my cookbooks for something different.  In Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, I found an intriguing recipe variation under "Spaghetti alla Carbonara" that made the usually bacon-y dish meatless.  I was skeptical, but it was easy and delicious.  Coating the spaghetti with eggs and cheese made for a rich sauce, and the browned zucchini added nice depth of flavor.  This recipe is a definite keeper!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara without Bacon
adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz spaghetti
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small onion, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Combine olive oil, zucchini, and onion in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Cook, stiring frequently until the zucchini browns, about 10 minutes.

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in the bowl.

3. Salt the boiling water and cook pasta until tender but firm. When done, drain it and toss it immediately with the egg-cheese mixture.  Add zucchini-onion mixture.  Season with lots of pepper and add salt to taste.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings
Active time: 30 minutes