Monday, November 10, 2014

Spaghetti (Squash) Carbonara

Until this weekend, I've never mastered the carbonara (spaghetti coated with a bacon, egg, black pepper & cheese sauce). My past attempts always ended looking like spaghetti with scrambled eggs and bacon. I can't say substituting the spaghetti with spaghetti squash is what did the trick, but it sure didn't hurt.

Like most of my recipes, I found a basic version online that I could tweak to my liking. I went with this one from Emeril Lagasse, trusting him to do this classic-dish-with-a-squash-twist justice. I didn't make many adjustments, but I did add some yogurt chicken to the finished product to round it out.

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara (feeds 4...or 2)

1 spaghetti squash (look for ones that are heavy)
4-6 strips of bacon, cut into strips (the short way)
about 1/4 c chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 c white wine
2 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg
1 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tbsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste (but be generous with with pepper!)

First, bake the squash to soften it. Preheat oven to 375. Cut the squash in half (you'll need a big/sharp knife for this) and scrape out the seeds. Place cut side down in a baking dish and add water to cover the bottom and up about 1/4 in. on the squash. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until tender, about an hour. (I'd check it sooner--mine got a little mushy.) Let the squash cool a little (drain the water if you can) and use a fork to scrape out the flesh into a medium bowl. If you scrape length-wise it should come out in strands, like spaghetti.
In a large saute pan, cook bacon bits. When they are just about done, drain most of the fat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for about 1 minute longer, add the wine and let simmer until all the liquid has evaporated, and then remove from heat.
In a bowl, whisk eggs and add cheese and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Pour this into the bacon mixture and stir to warm the eggs/cheese. Here's where the magic either happens or doesn't--if the bacon is too hot, the eggs will scramble. The eggs shouldn't cook through, just make sure everything is coated. Add spaghetti squash and make sure that's completely coated as well. I had a little extra liquid at this point, so I turned the stove back on to cook that off and to make sure everything was heated uniformly.
Taste test, adjust seasonings, top with chicken, and serve!
This also makes great leftovers.

Extras: My love of Italian food runs deep and another classic Roman dish.

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