The Ultimate Spaghetti Carbonara

If you’ve ever had spaghetti carbonara at a restaurant, chances are it wasn’t that good — except if you were in Italy. In fact, it doesn’t even sound that good at first, especially the way it is usually described on a menu. Spaghetti with bacon, eggs and cheese. (Eggs? Huh?)
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Well, please get with the program. This is a case where the simple becomes the divine. If this “ultimate” spaghetti carbonara by Tyler Florence doesn’t convince you…well, you need to go to Italy. Stat.
Spaghetti carbonara is a creamy, salty, peppery plate of pasta — the egg cooks in the hot pasta and creates this wonderful sauce unlike any pasta sauce you’ve ever had. And the al dente pasta, the salty cheese, the freshness of the parsley, the crunch of the bacon — it’s so simple you wouldn’t believe it could pack in so much flavor. Plus, it’s one of those dishes where you might just have everything you need to make it in your fridge. What’s better than that?
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TW’s Tips
  • I halved this recipe — a pound of pasta is just too much unless I’m cooking for company.
  • Sorry Tyler, but 7-8 minutes is not enough time to caramelize onions. Take it slow and cook them for 20-25.
  • I wasn’t happy with the way the bacon and onion cooked together. The bacon didn’t crisp up enough, and the onions browned too much if I turned up the heat. Instead, cook the bacon first without cutting it up and crumble it when it’s crispy, and cook the onions in the bacon fat. Yup, this recipe is not low fat.
  • Use lots and lots of fresh cracked pepper.
  • Use good, freshly grated Parmesan. You can get a huge wedge at Costco and it lasts forever since it’s such a hard cheese. Believe me, you will never go back to the pre-shredded, flavorless stuff. It’s expensive but less expensive than buying bag after bag of shredded whenever you need it.
The Ultimate Spaghetti Carbonara
Directions
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 bacon slices, sliced crosswise into thin strips
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tbs heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti.

Heat a 3-count of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and onion and cook for 7-8 minutes, until the onion is carmelized and the bacon crisp. While that’s going, crack the eggs into a big bowl. Add the cream and cheese and whisk. Scrape the bacon and onion with the cooking fat into the bowl.

Throw the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook until it’s al dente. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and add it to the bowl with the egg and bacon.

Drain the spaghetti, add it to the bowl, and give everything a good toss. Invert a plate on top of the bowl to hold in the heat and let the pasta set for 5 minutes.┬áRemove the plate, toss in some salt, pepper, and parsley, and boom: You’ve got spaghetti carbonara!

Summer Squash, Bacon and Mozzarella Quiche with Sauteed Kale

I had some super fresh yellow squash and a big bag of kale to cook up from this week’s farmers market haul, and I happened upon this quiche recipe in Cooking Light — jackpot!

To go alongside, I grabbed a sauteed kale recipe from FoodNetwork.com, courtesy of Anne Burrell. It was super simple, with a nice kick from some crushed red pepper flake and a dash of sherry vinegar at the end. If you haven’t tried kale before, you’ve got to taste this. It’s healthy and really tasty too. Yum!

TW’s tips:

  • Buy the crust for the quiche. Why stress out rolling dough, chilling it, etc. What a hassle.
  • I added some Gruyere cheese in addition to the mozzarella, which browned up on top of the quiche quite nicely and added some nice saltiness. (Confession: I made a mistake and added the cheese on top after I poured in the eggs. Oops! Don’t do that. But it was still good.)
  • I added more than 3 ounces of cheese. (Sorry Cooking Light, but that’s just not enough.)
  • I used skim milk instead of 2% and just used a little bit less — it turned out fine.
  • Not all of the egg mixture fit in the pie crust, which resulted in a little bit of a blowout/ spillage when it was cooking in the oven. Put it on a cookie sheet, and don’t overfill the crust.

Enjoy!

Summer Squash, Bacon and Mozzarella Quiche

Ingredients

  • 9-inch frozen deep-dish pie crust
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (1/8-inch-thick) slices yellow squash
  • 2 cups (1/8-inch-thick) slices zucchini
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk (I used 3/4 cup of skim)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350┬░.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add squash, zucchini, shallots, and thyme; saute for 5 minutes or until squash and zucchini are tender, stirring frequently. Cool the squash mixture slightly.

Combine 1 cup reduced-fat milk and the next 5 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Arrange squash mixture evenly over crust, and sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Pour the egg mixture over cheese. Bake at 350┬░ for 45 minutes or until filling is set. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack.

Sauteed Kale (by Anne Burrell)

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 bunch baby kale, stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 bunch black kale, stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and add the garlic cloves and crushed red pepper. Bring the pan to a medium heat and cook the garlic until it gets golden and very aromatic. Remove the garlic and discard.

Add the 2 types of kale and stir to coat with the oil. Season with salt and add the chicken stock. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Uncover and stir to be sure that the kale is cooked evenly. Let the liquid evaporate. Sprinkle with sherry vinegar. Taste to make sure that the kale is seasoned perfectly.

Serve immediately.