I know what you’re thinking. Pasta carbonara? The week after Thanksgiving? Who needs it? But, and forgive me if I’m wrong, I think you might be thinking of an entirely different dish, one containing cream and butter and vast amounts of cheese?
I had misconceptions, too. But true pasta carbonara is in fact light, containing no cream at all. And this recipe, from Everyday Food, calls for sautéed leeks, grated lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice, flavors that make this carbonara preparation particularly fresh and light. What I love most about this dish is the sauce, made with two whisked eggs, 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, and 1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, an incredibly creamy mixture (despite containing no cream at all) that coats the pasta so well, making every bite especially tasty. Oddly, it tastes not the least bit eggy. Just creamy and delicious. Yum.
With bacon and eggs on hand, dinner can be assembled in a flash. I’ve made this dish once a week since my Everyday Food magazine arrived in mid-October. Nothing makes me happier than whisking that pasta cooking liquid with the eggs and cheese, watching it transform into a magically flavorful sauce, and throwing dinner on the table. I think you’ll enjoy it, too.
When my dear auntie was visiting last week, she brought me some goodies — eggs, bacon, sausage and chicken — from Kinderhook Farm in New York. Oh my gosh, what a treat! With the chicken — one of the best chickens I’ve ever tasted — we made Zuni Cafe’s roast chicken and bread salad; with the eggs and bacon, we made several batches of pasta carbonara (in addition to enjoying them on their own for breakfast); and with the sausage — so peppery and delicious — we made breakfast sandwiches on English muffins. Yum yum yum. Thank you Auntie!
Beautiful eggs from Kinderhook Farm:
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 4 leeks (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and thinly sliced
- ¾ pound short pasta, such as campanelle, orecchiette, or gemelli (I use more like ½ lb.)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup), plus more for serving (optional)
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)
- Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet. (I do not pour off any fat...) Add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until leeks are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add pasta to pot and cook according to package instructions. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking liquid. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and lemon zest and juice. Whisk ¼ cup pasta water into egg mixture.
- Drain pasta and immediately add to egg mixture, along with bacon, leeks, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle with more cheese if desired and serve immediately.