An Old Favorite
It’s been a long week and I left a sad-faced Daisy this morning. Tonight calls for something comforting. That means pasta. I love pasta with vibrant pesto, bright marinara and with soft cream sauce, all the colors of the Italian flag. My favorite is Carbonara. A rich reinterpretation of bacon & eggs, it fills the bowl with salty, smoky, creamy goodness.
There are many stories behind the name which translates to coal miner in Italian. There are also many ways to make the dish: With bacon or ham or guanciale, even without the pig, but always with copious amounts of freshly cracked black pepper, which look like little specks of coal.
Recently, Carbonara has made something of a comeback at home. I can make it in a snap and Daisy gobbles it up with delight. This classic is traditionally made with bacon or ham and a cream sauce laced with gooey yolks. In the interest of time (and preserving the fragrance of my newly washed mane), I nixed frying bacon and opted for paper-thin Parma prosciutto, which has a beautiful soft texture and a delicate salty flavor. The eggs didn’t make the cut, making for a lighter cream sauce. Toss a handful of frozen peas and a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley shortly before serving to brighten the flavors.
Don’t mess with perfection, they say. I always mess with perfection and, this time, I improved something that was already divine. I ditched my usual Béchamel sauce for a quicker, light and more delicious venture: Just eggs and cheese. How could that be bad? Well, exactly. It was splendid. So light, full of flavor and quicker to make. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Pasta Carbonara with Prosciutto
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
1 lb pasta
2 Tb olive oil
2 free-range eggs
1 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 lb prosciutto
drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tb fresh parsley
2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Set a big pot of water over medium-high heat
Add a big handful of salt, a drizzle of olive oil, put the lid on and bring to a rolling boil.
Add dry pasta and cook 6-8 mins.
While the pasta is cooking, beat eggs, parmesan and a splash of milk.
Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly until the sauce coats the back of your spoon.
Finish with freshly grated nutmeg and salt.
Put the lid on and remove from heat.
Wash and chop parsley. Set aside.
Just before draining pasta, toss frozen peas into the pot to thaw.
Drain peas and pasta.
Divide among 4 bowls.
Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of sauce into each.
Tear prosciutto over each bowl by hand and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.
Add a sprinkle of parsley and crack a generous helping of black pepper on top.
Serve with good quality grated parmesan and garlic bread.
Just-a Like-a Mama Makes
Dropping the eggs and bacon may seem sacrilegious, but working mommies everywhere will appreciate how quickly this Carbonara comes together. After that first ethereal bite, they’ll never doubt this cooking method. I just hope I haven’t offended anybody’s nonna.