Not long back from vacation, hardly anything in the freezer, I need to go shopping but, first, I have to cook lunch for my beloved. My typical “go to” is either a risotto – cooked that on Friday – or pasta. A quick rummage in the fridge and cupboard and I had almost the makings of a pasta carbonara. I say almost because I had no spaghetti, only durum wheat pici (fat spaghetti), and no parmesan cheese. However, I had some ham, an egg, some cream and nutritional yeast which vegans use to give dishes a cheesy flavour.
I could also have cooked the pasta with a variety of bottled sauces from the cupboard or make an aglio, olio e pepperoncini (garlic, olive oil and chilli pepper) but my beloved had eaten that only last week for lunch in Italy on our way back from Austria.
So here goes:-
Ingredients (for one greedy cyclist)
- 150g (5 1/4 oz) pasta, preferably spaghetti
- 125ml (1/2 cup) single (half and half) cream
- 1 large organic egg or (preferably) two egg yolks
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 100g (3 1/2 oz) wafer thin slices of bacon, ham, giancale or pancetta
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet in boiling salted water until al dente.
2. Cook giancale on a low heat in a deep frying pan.
3. Meanwhile, gently mix eggs, cream, yeast and black pepper.
4. Once pasta is cooked, drain retaining 125 ml (1/2 cup) pasta water. Add pasta to ham, add egg and cream mixture and toss pasta. If necessary, add some pasta water to thin sauce.
5. Serve and enjoy!
Purists will no doubt be outraged but my beloved lapped it up.
Sheree’s Handy Hints
I love coming up with dishes, without recipes, from whatever I have available. I used to get plenty of practice when we lived in London. After watching my beloved boys in claret and blue (AVFC) play at home, we’d often drop into to see friends who lived in Coleshill on the way back. They would challenge me to come up with dinner for four with the contents of their cupboard and fridge. Fortunately, I could always rely upon them having rice, pasta and tins of tomatoes though, it’s my proud boast, I never cooked the same meal twice!
Okay, aside from the bottled sauces, what else could I have put on the pasta?
1. I could’ve cooked down a handful of cherry tomatoes in olive oil, butter, garlic, salt and black pepper along with the few leaves of basil left on my plant. The sauce is ready in the same amount of time it takes to cook the pasta. Because cherry tomatoes have lots of pectin, their juice easily emulsifies with olive oil and pasta water to form a light sauce. Also, it can be jazzed up with any number of other ingredients such as cooked ham, chilli pepper, capers, anchovies and black olives.
2. I had some stale bread which I could have reduced to breadcrumbs and fried in olive oil with an anchovy or two and some pasta water to top the pici.
3. If I’d had some left-over cooked veggies, I could produce a surprisingly tasty sauce by chopping them into into small pieces and blending them into a sauce. You can experiment with different combinations of vegetables but you must use potatoes, since the starch they contribute is necessary for thickening the sauce.
4. If I hadn’t any ham, I could’ve substituted sliced mushrooms in the carbonara recipe, or used both for an Alfredo type sauce.
5. The only limitations are your imagination and ingredients to hand.