I was craving pasta this week. I know, I know…what’s new, right? Well I was. So when I saw an email from Cooking Light highlighting a lightened up pasta carbonara, I was totally game. I’ve always wanted to make some sort of pasta carbonara, but for some reason or another, I just never got around to it.
One of my cooking idols, Giada, once made a carbonara recipe that I’m still itching to try, and what I loved about Cooking Light’s recipe is that it was a slightly lightened version of the dish.
This also makes for a perfect weeknight dish. I had less than an hour one night before a call, and I was able to finish it up just as the call was beginning. Talk about good timing!
So here is how this super simple dish comes together. I did my prep work by grating my cheese and cutting my parsley so it was waiting on me and not the other way around. Then I began boiling water for the pasta. I usually go with a whole wheat pasta option when I can, because it’s better for you and it also holds up really well in any dish.
As the water boiled and the pasta began cooking, I tackled the leeks. Here are a couple of things to know about leeks. First, they are a milder flavor than an onion (they look like giant green onions/scallions). Second, you don’t want to use too much of the dark green part of the leeks because that part is pretty tough. Third, they are dirty. Extremely dirty, so you have to clean them.
I fill a large bowl about 3/4 of the way full with water. Then the leeks are sliced down the middle lengthwise, the root end is sliced off and then I make my way through it making very thin slices. Once I have my leeks sliced, I place them in the bowl of water and use my fingers to break them up a bit. Then I let them sit in the water for a couple of minutes. The dirt will sink to the bottom and then I move the clean leeks floating at the top to a paper towel-lined plate and let them sit and dry off until I’m ready for them.
Also while the pasta finishes cooking, I mix up the sauce. It consists of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, salt, pepper, 1 egg, 1 egg white, and then once that is whisked, I add 1/4 cup of the pasta water. This is key because it helps keep the eggs from scrambling when you put the dish together. So once the sauce is whisked, the pancetta is cooked until crispy and then moved to a plate, the leeks are added to the drippings and cooked along with some garlic. Once they are tender, the pasta, pancetta, and the sauce are added to the pan over low heat. Just stir it up and serve topped with the chopped parsley.
This was easy, delicious, and the leftovers were amazing. For the recipe, nutrition info, and step by step instructions, click here. Totally perfect for this busy time of year!
What I was cooking up a year ago: Because I Can…Grown Up Mac ‘n Cheese
If you visit my blog regularly, then you know I’m a complete sucker for macaroni and cheese. Understatement of the century perhaps?! This recipe is absolutely divine and comes from the Barefoot Contessa. Full of indulgence and totally grown-up cheeses, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven with every bite. This may just be the best macaroni and cheese I have EVER made. That’s right! Definitely, one to add to your cooking arsenal!