Thursday, June 20, 2013

Springtime Spaghetti Carbonara

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to fresh produce from Sweetwater Farm and pasture-raised poultry from Fair Valley Farm including:

kohlrabi (delicious in salads)
fava beans and sugar snap peas (make carbonara)
pattypan squash and zucchini (try tsukemono pickles)
spring onions, fresh spring garlic, and garlic scapes (make some scallion pancakes)
kale, chard, collards, braising greens mix, lettuce, and salad mix (try this sauteed kale)
broccoli, Italian green cauliflower, and beets (make some bright pink beet pasta)
strawberries (try tapioca flamingos)
dried beans and grains from Camus Country Mill (pick up fixings for hot oatmeal)
jams, salsa, and pickles from Sweet Creek Foods
pastured chickens, as well as chicken hearts and livers (try this chicken liver pate)

Spaghetti carbonara was one of the dietary staples of my mother (before she was my mother) and her roommate (my future aunt) when living 
as impoverished students in a Paris garret. The recipe persisted in the family and it was one of the first dishes that both my cousins and my sister and I learned to make. It is appealingly simple: toss hot cooked spaghetti into raw eggs and grated cheese and the pasta strands become coated with a lovely creamy sauce. Then add bacon and possibly some alliums and vegetables. This dish is elevated from subsistence fare if you use top quality bacon (such as my parents sent my husband for his birthday) and increase the vegetables; during my childhood we often had it with onions, bell peppers, and zucchini. Last week I discovered that if you use the freshest spring snap peas and garlic scapes, the dish is transformed into something truly sublime and worthy of the finest dining establishment in Paris. 

Springtime Spaghetti Carbonara
1/2 lb bacon
3/4 lb snap peas
4 garlic scapes
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
plenty of freshly ground black pepper
1 lb spaghetti

1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil.

2. In a large serving bowl, combine the eggs, grated cheese and plenty of black pepper, and mix well.

3. Rinse the snap peas, snap off the stem ends and remove the threads from the top of the pods. Cut the pods along the diagonal into 1/2 inch pieces. Rinse the garlic scapes, trim off the flower ends and slice the stems into 1/4 inch pieces.

4. Cut the bacon strips into 1/2 inch pieces. When the water is close to a boil, start cooking the bacon pieces in a large skillet over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon. Drain off all but 1 or 2 Tbsp of bacon fat, return the pan to the heat source, and toss in the garlic scapes. Cook, stirring for about about one minute, then add the snap peas. Cook for about two minutes, and then add back the bacon pieces to the pan. Cook the mixture for about one more minute until the peas have turned a more brilliant green but still have plenty of crunch. Remove from heat.

5. While the bacon is cooking, throw your spaghetti into the boiling water and cook according to the instructions. Position your colander in the sink and your serving bowl with the egg mixture close by. As soon as the spaghetti is ready, drain it and then quickly toss it into the serving bowl. Use tongs or large serving utensils to toss the hot spaghetti in the egg mixture until the eggs are completely cooked and coat the spaghetti strands. Now toss in the bacon and snap pea topping and toss again. Serve immediately with more grated parmesan cheese and fresh black pepper.

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