I will be the first to admit that the extra 10 pounds that I carry on my belly is most likely fueled by my love of pasta. But lately, I have begun to adjust. My doctor would be proud.
Carbonara is a tempting modification. Instead of cream, the recipe calls for starch water left from the boiled pasta and well beaten egg yolks. I suggest cutting back on the pasta and using more fresh vegetables.
For this recipe, I pulled a mess of veggies from our newly engineered soil. Before, it was all sand, blackberries and willow. I then added locally foraged wild mushrooms, which grow in abundance during fall. I suggest learning about a few colorful and delicious fungi, then trying wild mushroom hunting for yourself.
Ingredients (serves four)
Three cloves of crushed and minced garlic
One medium onion, thinly sliced and diced
Two pounds of lobster mushrooms, sliced into thin bites
Three stalks of finely diced celery
One quarter-cup of virgin olive oil
One large handful of kale, sliced into quarter-inch ribbons. Cut out the fibrous center portion.
One medium zucchini, cut into quarter-inch pieces
One diced apple, cut into quarter-inch pieces
Six to 8 ounces of boiled spaghetti, al dente
One quarter-cup of heavy cream (optional)
Four egg yolks, beaten
One cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Two dozen cherry tomatoes, halved
A fist-full of garden chives, sliced finely for garnish
Chopped garden fennel
Salt and pepper
Cook the spaghetti and strain, saving two cups of the starch water. Pour a splash of virgin olive oil over the noodles. Grate in a half-cup of Pecorino Romano cheese and hold.
Saute the garlic, onion, celery and lobster mushrooms in the remaining olive oil. The lobster mushroom is a very firm mushroom and requires more cooking time than most others. When translucent, toss in the zucchini, kale and a diced apple. Saute briefly, then add the pre-boiled spaghetti and one cup of the starch water.
The cream is optional. It does add a bit of richness but if your diet shrieks out a clarion call for moderation, stick with the egg yolks.
Reduce the heat for the pasta for a couple of minutes until the cream thickens. Then, turn off the heat. Toss with the egg yolks, chopped chives and fennel.
Grace with more Parmesan (preferably, Pecorino Romano) and serve immediately.
You can thin with a little of the remaining starch water if desired. The dish pairs well with sides of steamed broccoli and marinated ribs. I steamed broccoli with a dab of sweet Asian chili sauce and one tablespoon of butter. For the ribs, I poured a tablespoon of reduced wine and pan juices over the top of the beef.