Recipe Index can be found here.
Brainbyte: I love, love this post on 7 Reasons I Hate Artificial Food Dyes. Wherever I can, I avoid them. I discovered when Arun was a toddler that artificial food coloring makes him impulsive, emotional and highly-distracted. The same kid who can eat a bowl of ice cream late at night and go straight to bed is a hot mess when he has artificial food colors.
Yesterday, I invited my friend Emily over for lunch (remember Emily? The same friend I invited over for Black-Eyed Peas Curry? The same night that I divvied up Hostessing and Horking Duties? Yes, she came back! Can you believe it?) I wanted our lunch to be something easy because Emily has a new! baby! and I knew that I would not want to fiddle with cooking. Indeed, I was going to want some cuddles from her little demi-desi of deliciousness. Since I am done with birthin' babies, I have to take my newborn snuggles where I can get them.
I decided to make Pasta alla Carbonara. The recipe is originally from a Big Time Food Star, but frankly, her recipe was a little pricey because it included Italian pancetta. However, I discovered that regular bacon is an acceptable and wallet-friendly substitution one time when my grocery store did not have pancetta . Also, Big Time Food Star's recipe called for rigatoni pasta and romano cheese, but I did not have those things on hand. However, I always have penne pasta and parmigiano-reggiano on hand. Furthermore, buying a special cheese for ONE dish does not make financial sense for me. I know that Serious Foodies would scoff at my Costco-sized bucket of dry-aged, grated cheese, but I meet their Scoff and raise them a Shrug. At least it is not in a green can, right? And by using regular bacon, pasta and the type of cheese that I already have hand, this dish is now affordable for me.
Anyway! I love, love this dish. It is so quick to whip up but is rich and satisfying with nice texture. It feels fancy and is so darned pretty with the garnish of fresh parsley and a scattering of grated cheese.
Also, Big Time Food Star claims you can make this dish in 30 minutes or less. Ahem.
Pasta alla Carbonara
1 pound penne pasta
2 tbs olive oil (or more, if needed, to keep everything from sticking!)
1/4 pound bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 large egg yolks
1/4 to 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
1. Bring a large saucepot of water to boil. Add a tsp salt and the pasta. Cook to al dente.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and bacon. Brown the bacon 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add wine and stir well.
3. In a separate bowl, beat yolks, then add a 1/2 cup of the pasta water. (This tempers the eggs so you don't end up with scrambled eggs when you add them to the pasta!)
4. Drain pasta well and add it directly to the skillet with bacon and oil. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Mix rapidly to coat the pasta without scrambling the egg.
5. Remove pan from heat and add a big handful of cheese, lots of pepper, and a little salt. Continue to toss and turn the pasta until it soaks up egg mixture and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley and extra grated Romano.