March 06, 2012

Tomato Basil Carbonara

Let's call a spade a spade.  Carbonara is basically stove top mac and cheese with bacon.  Oh heck yeah!  Creamy thickened egg yolks loaded with parmesan cheese and an underlying flavor of bacon beats the box mac and cheese any day of the week.  Best part?  It comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta!  For my version, I added a note of sweetness and acidity with cherry tomatoes and basil.  This is me pretending to be healthy by adding vegetables, but really I just wanted some down and dirty comfort food.

Carbonara is an Italian dish consisting of egg, cheese, bacon, and black pepper.  Bacon fat is used to saute the onions, garlic, and any other vegetables while the pasta is cooking.  When the pasta is done egg yolks, cheese, and cream are whisked together and quickly combined with the bacon and veggies on low heat, being careful to not scramble the eggs.  The pasta is added to the thickened sauce, adding starchy pasta water to thin the sauce.

Done in 15 minutes, the perfect out-of-the-box weeknight comfort food!

Tomato Basil Carbonara
3 slices of thick cut bacon
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup half and half, room temp
3 egg yolks, room temp
1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
whole wheat pasta
pasta water
pepper to taste
2 teaspoons chopped basil

Start boiling the water for pasta.  When the water is boiling, salt the water and add the pasta.  Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to a pan on medium high heat to render the fat and cook the bacon.

After 2-3 minutes, the fat has been rendered and the bacon has begun to brown.  Add the diced onions and saute for 3-4 minutes, then add the minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

When the onions have carmelized, add the halved cherry tomatoes and freshly grated nutmeg.

Once the pasta is done, drain and reserve the starchy pasta water.  Whisk together the half and half, egg yolks, and cheese.

Add to the pan over medium low heat and let cook for about 30 seconds before adding in the pasta.

Remove to a medium bowl and continue to combine.  If the sauce is too thick, then add pasta water a little at a time.  Top with the basil and serve up!

Ohhh my lord, I should probably go for a run tomorrow . . . Worth it!

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