Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Here is my guilty-foodie confession: I'm not all that fond of pasta. I only like the pastas like lasagne and manicotti that are actually vessels for plenty of ricotta and bechamel. However, after sampling Jeff's fusilli with ricotta, eggplant and walnuts at Fabioulus (and then sampling again, and again, and again, until the inevitable "Eat your own risotto, woman!") I decided perhaps I was judging pasta unfairly. Maybe I really just don't like marinara.

So I decided to make spaghetti carbonara- I had made it once, almost ten years ago, when the Minimalist ran a column on a version with zucchini (available in The Minimalist Cooks At Home. This time I tried the fancier version, with bacon and peas and ricotta, from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, and the "stop, think, there must be a harder way" version wouldn't have given the Minimalist too much pause.

The nice thing about pasta is you can put your water on to boil while you do all your mise en place and so it doesn't seem as time consuming since, you know, you are waiting for water to boil. So I shelled a mess of fresh English peas from Weiser Farms, and grated up some parmesan (though Judy Rodgers said UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES substitute parmesan for pecorino romano. Don't tell.) and cut up a few slices of bacon. Then I tossed the pasta in the water and heated the bacon on low with some olive oil, which I feared would lead to super oily pasta. I also beat the ricotta with some eggs. About one minute before the pasta was done, you toss in the peas and turn up the heat on the bacon so it crisps up. Then remove the bacon pan from the heat and drain the pasta/peas. Throw the pasta/peas into your still warm bacon pan, pour the ricotta/eggs on top, and fold in with the parmesan (I mean not under any circumstances parmesan, but pecorino romano) and tons of freshly cracked black pepper.

It couldn't have been easier and it was so, so, so good. I kind of feared the richness of the eggs and cheese and bacon would drown out the peas, but they were like little morsels of freshness cutting through the richness. And it wasn't at all greasy. For the first time in my entire life I ate an entire serving of pasta. (And, possibly, could have had seconds.)