Saturday, March 08, 2008

Zucchini Carbonara

While I'm on the Jamie Oliver vibe, here's another one from his latest book. I actually started making a very similar recipe to this one over 10 years ago, simply because, as much as I love Carbonara sauces, there's not much goodness in there for you and too be honest with all that Bacon, Egg Yolk and Cream, it can be quite fatty. So, instead of just using Zucchini, like Jamie has below, I also like to add some Squash in there (not the pumpkin kind) and maybe even some Yellow Capsicum. The secret to making this dish great, is using some really good free range eggs and bacon. You'll find that you can get free range bacon at your supermarkets now like Coles and Safeway, in the fridge section- a good one is made by KR. Remember, it's just as important to buy free range bacon and pork products as it is eggs and chicken!

Serves 4


  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 medium green and yellow courgettes
  • 500g penne
  • 4 large free-range or organic egg yolks
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 good handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • 12 thick slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, cut into chunky lardons
  • a small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped, flowers reserved (if you can get hold of flowering thyme)

1. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Halve and then quarter any larger courgettes lengthways. Cut out and discard any fluffy middle bits, and slice the courgettes at an angle into pieces roughly the same size and shape as the penne. Smaller courgettes can simply be sliced finely. Your water will now be boiling, so add the penne to the pan and cook according to the packet instructions.

2. To make your creamy carbonara sauce, put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the cream and half the Parmesan, and mix together with a fork. Season lightly and put to one side.

3. Heat a very large frying pan (a 35cm one is a good start – every house should have one!), add a good splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta or bacon until dark brown and crisp. Add the courgette slices and 2 big pinches of black pepper, not just to season but to give it a bit of a kick. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves, give everything a stir, so the courgettes become coated with all the lovely bacon-flavoured oil, and fry until they start to turn lightly golden and have softened slightly.

4. It’s very important to get this next bit right or your carbonara could end up ruined. You need to work quickly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water. Immediately, toss the pasta in the pan with the courgettes, bacon and lovely flavours, then remove from the heat and add a ladleful of the reserved cooking water and your creamy sauce. Stir together quickly. (No more cooking now, otherwise you’ll scramble the eggs.)

5. Get everyone around the table, ready to eat straight away. While you’re tossing the pasta and sauce, sprinkle in the rest of the Parmesan and a little more of the cooking water if needed, to give you a silky and shiny sauce. Taste quickly for seasoning. If you’ve managed to get any courgette flowers, tear them over the top, then serve and eat immediately, as the sauce can become thick and stodgy if left too long.

1 comment:

Muse in the Kitchen said...

We've been big on Jamie Oliver around here, too, lately - and we're also big on carbonara. I don't remember seeing this recipe - we'll definitely have to give it a try!