Jamie at Home: Beautiful zucchini (courgette) carbonara

Mmmmmm. Rich, creamy pasta.

Honestly, there’s not to much to say here, other than this recipe is a hit from start to finish… and on the table within 40 minutes! I chose to make this dish as I had just received a bunch of fresh local zucchini from Hearts and Roots that day. (Manitobans, check this farm out, or pre-order one of their garden growler bags!)

This is a very easy-to-follow recipe, and it’s fantastic that you can simply prep all of the ingredients while your penne is cooking. I was a tad worried about scrambling my egg sauce, but I (egads!) followed the instructions to a T and all was well.

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Making the sauce

I ended up adding a few cloves of minced garlic to my sauce – honestly, I was a bit surprised that Mr. Oliver did not include this! – and I swapped out the thyme with green and purple basil just because I had the latter on hand. In addition to extra Parmesan cheese, I added a good bunch of chopped chives to the dish.

Also, as the recipe notes, be sure to use the BIGGEST pan you have to mix all of this goodness up. I have a 15″ pan and even that was a little tight! And please note: This recipe makes a ton of servings (at least 6 to 8 versus the 4 stated in the cookbook.)

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Can you hear the angels sing?

Creamy, rich and bacony. This pasta has it all going on. Love it.

Recipe Rating: 5 knives out of 5

Mangia!
Cindy

*****

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 6 medium courgettes (i.e. zucchini)
  • 1 lb penne (Note: Safeway and Sobey’s carry a Jamie Oliver brand)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 12 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 slices pancetta or 12 slices lean bacon, thick slices cut into chunky pieces
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped

Method

  1. Carbonara is a classic pasta sauce made with cream, bacon and Parmesan and is absolutely delicious. Try to buy the best ingredients you can, as that’s what really helps to make this dish amazing. I’m using a flowering variety of thyme but normal thyme is fine to use. When it comes to the type of pasta, you can serve carbonara with spaghetti or linguine, but I’ve been told by Italian mammas (who I don’t argue with!) that penne is the original, so that’s what I’m using in this recipe. Before you start cooking, it’s important to get yourself a very large pan, or use a high-sided roasting tray so you can give the pasta a good toss.
  2. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Halve and then quarter any larger courgettes lengthways. Cut out and discard any fluffy middle bits, and slice the courgettes at an angle into pieces roughly the same size and shape as the penne. Smaller courgettes can simply be sliced finely. Your water will now be boiling, so add the penne to the pan and cook according to the packet instructions.
  3. To make your creamy carbonara sauce, put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the cream and half the Parmesan, and mix together with a fork. Season lightly and put to one side.
  4. Heat a very large frying pan (a 35cm one is a good start – every house should have one!), add a good splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta or bacon until dark brown and crisp. Add the courgette slices and 2 big pinches of black pepper, not just to season but to give it a bit of a kick. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves, give everything a stir, so the courgettes become coated with all the lovely bacon-flavoured oil, and fry until they start to turn lightly golden and have softened slightly.
  5. It’s very important to get this next bit right or your carbonara could end up ruined. You need to work quickly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water. Immediately, toss the pasta in the pan with the courgettes, bacon and lovely flavours, then remove from the heat and add a ladleful of the reserved cooking water and your creamy sauce. Stir together quickly. (No more cooking now, otherwise you’ll scramble the eggs.)
  6. Get everyone around the table, ready to eat straight away. While you’re tossing the pasta and sauce, sprinkle in the rest of the Parmesan and a little more of the cooking water if needed, to give you a silky and shiny sauce. Taste quickly for seasoning. If you’ve managed to get any courgette flowers, tear them over the top, then serve and eat immediately, as the sauce can become thick and stodgy if left too long.
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