It feels like yesterday, but evidently it was just over two years ago that I wrote a post on carbonara.
Much more recently we went to Maccaroni Trattoria in Melbourne and tried their vegetarian version of carbonara, which replaced the bacon with zucchini. Alice and I enjoyed it so much that we both thought in terms of cooking it at home. I certainly haven’t exactly done that, if for no other reason than the restaurant version had cream, whilst mine stuck to the traditional carbonara only egg attitude.
Ingredients for two
pepper, freshly ground
2 medium zucchinis grated
shallot, chopped finely
garlic, chopped finely
While the spaghetti is cooking:
Mix one egg per person and an extra yolk per two people. Add parmesan, perhaps a cup, leaving some for the table. Add lots of freshly ground pepper.
In a large pan, I use a wok, heat olive oil and gently fry the shallot until soft, add the garlic, mix, add the zucchini and gently fry until softened.
Keep a cup of the cooking water before you drain the spaghetti.
Then, as for the normal version, put the pan back on the heat, add the spaghetti. Mix and then add the egg/cheese mixture, turn quickly if not frantically, take it off the heat, you don’t want scrambled eggs. Add some of the cooking water you saved, still stirring in a completely panicked way. It all seems to come together into a nicely silken coating needing nothing more than loads and loads of extra pepper as you eat. This is not to say that the panic was unnecessary, it is probably an essential ingredient. This dish doesn’t want you to think you are in control.
The lack of meat for taste made me add the shallot and garlic. I might also have added parsley. I should have added only some of the cooking water, but I tossed in a whole cup and this was okay – a bit runnier than it should be, but that was a good excuse to overdo the cheese served at the table.
I would happily have this any time, and surely it would be a happy marriage to combine the two versions, using both pancetta and zucchini. I will report on that some time.
When I went to make this much loved recipe, I discovered that I had a couple of issues. Firstly, the only vinegar I had was so woosy that one could scarcely tell it was vinegar at all. It was a Coriole sweet aged red wine vinegar, to be precise. Secondly, I had no stock, either chicken or vegetable, so water had to do.
I thought I had free rein at this point to vary it as I pleased, and instead of cumin and paprika, I added ras el hahout.
Worked a treat!