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Spaghetti alla Carbonara

July 19, 2009

The origins of pasta alla carbonara (usually spaghetti) is an Italian pasta dish based on egg yolks, pecorino romano cheese, cured fatty pork, and black pepper. Those are the basic ingredients in this decadent pasta dish. The pork is usually fried in fat and a mixture of eggs, cheese, and butter or olive oil is combined with the hot pasta, cooking the eggs. In all versions of the recipe, the eggs are added to the sauce raw, and cook (coagulate) with the heat of the pasta itself. So needless to say, I had to make a healthy rendition of this recipe asap. Yes, it is possible! I have been using prosciutto in a lot of my dishes lately because frankly, I’m not sure how long they will last in my fridge and any dish with prosciutto in it will have B running to the kitchen for dinner. I kept the basic main ingredients to make this carbonara with a couple substitutions. Instead of egg yolks, I used egg whites and prosciutto instead of the “cured fatty pork”. I omitted the oil and used chicken broth instead. I pumped up the volume of this pasta dish with broccoli florets and peas. Don’t you hate that feeling whenever you finish eating pasta and you’re hungry an hour later?! That’s because most white pastas are refined grains that don’t provide much nutrients, but instead leaves you feeling sluggish and bloated. Instead, use whole wheat pasta whenever you can for the fiber content to help you feel satisfied. When I finished making this dish, B was standing over me like a hawk waiting impatiently for me to take pictures and hurry up so he could eat! This is definitely a guy friendly meal and a great way to get veggies into his diet.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Makes 2 servings, 1 cup each

  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or Canadian bacon, trimmed of fat and diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 6 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti or linguine
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
    Salt to taste

Directions

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil for cooking pasta.
2. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto (or Canadian bacon) and cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
3. Whisk eggs, broth and pepper in the top of the cooking pasta. The steam from the boiling water will cook the eggs, whisk constantly in a slow, steady, figure-eight motion, until the sauce steams and thickens enough to coat a metal spoon, 3 minutes. The sauce may have a few small curdles. Remove the top pan from the heat and whisk the sauce rapidly so it does not continue to curdle.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Drop in broccoli florets and peas and cook until the pasta is tender but firm, 4 to 6 minutes more. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add the egg sauce, the prosciutto (or bacon) mixture and cheese; toss to coat well. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

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