Monday 21 March 2016

Carbonara's Cousin

Do any of you follow Canadian Budget Binder on Facebook?  Mr. CBB hosts one of my favourite "What's for Dinner" threads. Each evening's post includes a fan question and lots of lively discussion.

A recent fan question in the CBB thread asked what our go-to pasta dish was.  Spaghetti alla Carbonara sprang immediately to my mind and, quite coincidentally, I'd planned to make a carbonara-style pasta for supper that very evening.

This is the recipe for that dish. I call it Carbonara's Cousin because, unlike a true Carbonara, it's made without meat and topped with cooked vegetables.  It's super quick to make, and inexpensive too. 

Like many of my meals, it came about as a means of making use of what I had on hand at the time; in this case some leftover cooked broccoli florets and a very ripe tomato I found that day on the discounted produce cart at the grocery store. Roasting the tomato and seasoning the dish simply but generously turned the meal into something quite wonderful.

I cook just for myself these days, often making only a single portion at a time. The quantities in this recipe are for a single serving but can be easily increased. Simply multiply the quantities given below by the number of people you wish to serve.

To make Carbonara's Cousin, you'll need:

  • A single-serving quantity of spaghetti or other dry pasta.  I used brown rice spaghetti and portioned it by using the amount of uncooked pasta that would fit in a circle about the size of a quarter.
  • 1/2 cup small, steamed broccoli florets
  • 1 medium sized tomato
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Salt
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • More freshly cracked black pepper to taste (I like lots)

Begin by putting a large pot of water on to boil and setting your oven to 400F.

If your broccoli is not already cooked, you can steam it to tender crisp while the pasta water is heating. You should also cut your tomato into wedges, remove the seeds, then cut the wedges into a large-ish dice.  Put the tomato pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, then season them with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

When the oven reaches 400F, put your tomatoes in to roast. They'll need at least 15 minutes.

When the water comes to a boil and the pasta cooking time coincides with finishing the tomatoes (check the package cooking instructions to calculate this), season the water liberally with salt and add the pasta to the pot.

In a bowl large enough to accommodate your cooked, drained pasta, beat together the egg, shredded parmesan, and a generous quantity of freshly grated black pepper.

Pop the broccoli into the microwave to reheat for a few seconds once the pasta and tomato are both cooked. 

Scoop out some of the pasta cooking water and set it aside then drain the pasta.  

Transfer the drained pasta to the bowl containing the egg mixture and toss it until the pasta is coated and the egg heated through.  If you need it to make the mixture creamier or to help cook the egg, you can add a little of the pasta water.  Use your own judgement about this.

Transfer the pasta in its eggy sauce to a serving dish and top it with the cooked broccoli and tomato. Serve immediately.