Healthier-ish: 3 Changes in your Carbonara Sauce
A few things I've learned so far in this new-normal quarantine life of ours: as you may feel uninspired and find yourself cooking the same 4-5 dishes all the time, switching up the type of starch or pasta brand, or even an ingredient or two, may entice your children, roommates or significant other to dig with more of an appetite. In fact, a new presentation for a classic recipe can not only help heighten the excitement for a dish, it can also help you get through more shelf/freezer ingredients and eventually make you change a few unhealthy habits along the way.
For example, running out of bacon and using turkey bacon from your freezer stash. Changing your typical yellow onion for a couple of French shallots. Using egg whites over regular eggs (the store was out of eggs and I had to purchase pints of egg whites, a blessing in disguise!?)- and so many others. I think my biggest concern (it's truly nothing I need to watch my vocabulary choices) at the moment is that it is not hot enough outside to plant herbs and Steve eats whatever projects I start inside. So once summertime rolls around, adding tons of fresh herbs in our dishes will be an added bonus to these very loved and recreated meals.
Of course, there are the obvious: use wholewheat pasta, don't put any meat at all and give vegan cheese a try. However, as I have prepared this meal hundreds of times, I can tell you there are infinite possible versions of it out there, so here is one of them. You can alter it with any greens you have on hand, any type of starch that appeals to you and pretty much any type of sliced meat you can think of- or replacement veggie. So open up the cupboards and fridge, and get creative! Wine, or tons of coffee, are a great help.
Also, please excuse the G-d-awful lighting- it was a weird time of day for pictures but I had a small window to make this dish! The message, and recipe, remain.
You will need,
Celery (2 stalks, thinly sliced- we're talking pocket-Bible pages)
Garlic (3 cloves, minced)
Green peas (1 cup- mine were frozen)
Cavatappi pasta (I used enough for 4 bowls)
Chicken or Turkey bacon (3-4 strips)
Parmesan (1/2 cup and then a generous pinch when serving)
Egg whites (1/3 cup)
Spinach (I had 1/4 of a bag left, discarded the stems and left the leaves as were)
Salt and pepper
A few steps,
1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, toss olive oil, garlic, onion and shallot with salt and pepper until tender (the onion will be translucent after about 5-7 minutes of stirring). Reduce heat.
2. Chop the chicken bacon strips into 1-inch pieces. In a separate skillet, heat with olive oil at medium-high and toss until crispy (I personally ran out of time so they were not as crispy as desired! The reason I suggest a separate skillet is because they are much lower in fat than regular bacon and they tend to need much more time to reach that nice crisp). Set aside.
3. Back to the large skillet, add peas and spinach and stir until the leaves have softened.
4. Add the cooked pasta and 'bacon' bits and stir. Right away, add eggs and mix thoroughly (if the pasta is straight out of the strainer, it will be hot enough to cook the eggs and you can mix with the skillet off the heat)*.
5. The second the eggs have had a chance to cook, add the Parmesan and stir. This is all under a minute. Serve with extra salt and pepper to taste, and fresh Parm sprinkled on each bowl. Enjoy!
* If you got distracted and the pasta cooled down before the eggs step- I'm a parent, I get the multiple-breaks-while-cooking- leave the skillet on low heat during the last steps and remove on time to mix in the cheese.