Monday, June 3, 2013
Penne and asparagus carbonara
Spring time is asparagus time and we just can't get enough of it. I love asparagus - but this is really the only time of year that you can get it fresh and it's a short time. Our favorite place to get asparagus is from Thorpes Organic Family Farm (also our favorite place to get strawberries - I'm in anticipation for those already). We pick up a couple pounds a week and eat it in all different ways while we can. I love simple roasted asparagus as a side dish, but I also love to incorporate it into main dishes and breakfast. Asparagus pairs perfectly with eggs and bacon. So when I was flipping through Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home (still one of my favorite cookbooks ever) and saw his beautiful zucchini carbonara I was inspired to make a similar dish with asparagus. I also picked up some fresh pastured eggs and cream at the farmer's market, some high quality bacon, and used fresh oregano from my herb garden. This dish was truly delicious and decadent. While it may not be classic carbonara, that's OK with me - it was pretty spectacular! This recipe will make a lot of pasta and is best eaten right away - it will serve at least four people. Serve it with some fresh crusty bread to pick up any sauce at the bottom of your bowl.
Penne and asparagus carbonara
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into about 1-inch pieces
3/4 lb. bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 handfuls freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 large egg yolks (find the freshest and most high quality eggs you can)
1 lb. penne pasta
1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano, plus more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the asparagus with some olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 5-7 minutes, flipping them once, until they are fork tender and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Cook the penne in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving about one cup of pasta water. Mix together the cream, egg yolks, one handful of Parmesan, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl using a fork. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp in a large skillet with a bit of olive oil. When it is finished, drain off most of the fat. Add a few grinds of black pepper (you want a bit of a "kick") and the asparagus to the skillet.
Now you have to work quickly and carefully here to make sure your sauce doesn't scramble. Once your pasta is drained, add it to the skillet along with the oregano and toss well. Remove it from the heat and set it on the counter or table. Add a ladle of your cooking water along with the sauce and stir quickly and thoroughly. Stir in the remaining handful of Parmesan. If your sauce is too thick, stir in a bit more cooking water. The sauce should be smooth and glossy.
Eat immediately. Serve topped with extra oregano.
What was I cooking one year ago?: lemony potato and pea salad with mint
Two years ago?: chicken, mango, and cashew stir-fry
Three?: puffed pear pancake with cinnamon-maple syrup