So a few weeks back at Whole Foods in Tulsa, I got this really cute pasta. I know, pasta is generally not thought of as “cute”, but I am a sucker for unique pasta in all shapes, sizes and colors. Casarecce pasta, sometimes called “scroll pasta’ is one of those pastas designed brilliantly to hold sauce. That’s what I was looking for. Making it Pasta Carbonara style, this pasta was going to be incredible.
If you can’t find Caseracce pasta, don’t worry, just find something wonderful that has an ability to hold sauce, like shells or any pasta you love. Follow the package directions for your pasta, and enjoy.
Really, cooking is about enjoyment, not fuss, so be free and find what makes you happy.
I’d been wanting to try Pasta Carbonara for awhile now, so this seemed to be the time.
Pasta Carbonara is an old Italian dish that tosses a hot pasta (typically spaghetti) with a sauce made of bacon, beaten eggs, cheese and herbs. I liked the idea of adding just a splash of cream, and I had a brand new herb garden waiting to be plucked for cooking, so I headed on into the unchartered waters and began.
The first ingredient in Pasta Carbonara is bacon.
You can substitute Pancetta, but I went for good ol’ American bacon. I prefer the thicker sliced bacon, but any kind will do ya. Slice it into one-half inch pieces.
Stir this up and let it cook for 8-10 minutes until it turns nice and brown. I said brown, not black, so watch it carefully.
While that’s cooking, bring a large pot of water with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to boil over high heat for your pasta. Any good Italian will tell you the only way to season pasta is to add plenty of salt (to taste like seawater) to your water and I keep a bowl of it on my stovetop for just such an occasion. You can use any pasta you like for this recipe but pick one that will hold sauce well. I used Casarecce, but penne or bowtie pasta would be fun as well. The old fashioned version of this recipe would probably just use plain ol’ spaghetti. Cook whatever pasta you choose (about one pound) according to the package directions and make sure you don’t overcook it!
Once your bacon is nicely browned, remove it to a bowl or plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess grease.
Drain all the bacon grease out of your pan, then chop up one medium onion and cook it for a couple of minutes in the yumminess that is grease and browned bacon bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook these until they turn nice and brown and transluscent. Then add five garlic cloves (YES I said five!) into the onions and cook for one minute.
Transfer your onion-garlic mixture into a bowl also.
Now, for the sauce.
Crack 4 whole eggs into a serving bowl. I love my raspberry shallow- but- large pasta bowl. Truly love it. Add in one-half cup of cream. Don’t worry, it’s not much, and once dispersed throughout the sauce, it won’t kill you. Add in a cup of freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of cracked pepper.
You can use Parmesan, but I had a huge block of this stuff and it’s truly one of my favorite cheeses in the world.
Let’s talk about herbs. I am an admitted herb-freak. You could add a few tablespoons of chopped parsley to this, if you want traditional fare, but since I have an abundance of herbs growing right outside my back door, I added parsley, basil and chives. I used approximately 10 basil leaves, 1/2 cup of chopped parsley and 6 chives and chopped them all up together and added them right in.
Whisk all of this together to make a yellow and creamy, herb-flecked sauce.
By now, you should have cooked your pasta to al-dente (cooked, but with a bite) according to the package directions. Drain that gorgous stuff.
And dump it right on top of your sauce in the pasta bowl.
Add on the bacon and onions.
And mix it all up so that the hot pasta “cooks” the egg sauce and makes for a heavenly coating inside the little parchment scrolls.
If you’re feeling particularly naughty, grate on some more Percorino-Romano cheese and sprinkle on some chopped herbs for garnish.
Then spoon it all up into bowls and enjoy it with a hearty and crusty loaf of good bread and a salad.
Surprisingly, not since I made the Mussel dish, Mr. Wonderful gushed to me afterward, “That is by far, the best thing you’ve made lately!”.
And that, my dears, gave me the best stamp of approval I could want.
Cuz he, being the Wonderful that he is, is the guy I like to make happy.
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