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I enjoy finding yummy vegetarian alternatives to meat-containing classics. In this spirit, I have thought long and hard about spaghetti carbonara today, a dish I have always loved and don’t usually dare to order in a restaurant with the addendum “but please make it vegetarian”. In very high-end Italian restaurants they might come up with a tasty alternative to the bacon, but usually, there would be only the eggs and sometimes *gasp* cream (heresy, I say! Heresy!!), which is money and calories right out the window. No, wait, the calories would go to the hips,of course, but without a tasty experience! That’s just wasteful. Wasteful of calories.

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So, yeah, I decided to come up with my own yummy, vegetarian version. Today was the first test run with garlic (always good) and sundried tomatoes (also always good and one of Hubby’s faves; also, they kinda look like bacon). It went over really well! I don’t envy my colleagues, though, because I had no parsley to fight the garlic-stench…

The recipe is pretty easy. The only “hard” part about this dish is the technique – and for some, it might be hard to leave out the bacon. I hear it’s tasty and much-loved. Well, if you want, you can make it with bacon any day of the week. Just fry it up in place of the garlic and tomatoes, and you’re good to go. Heck, you could even simply ADD some bacon to the garlic and tomatoes. Go crazy, by all means! But if you want to do this the vegetarian way, just trust me and go with garlic and sundried tomatoes solo. It’s gooooood! And less caloric! And more yummy! If you’re me, that is. Because… I’ll just go ahead and say it: I’ve never liked bacon.

Right. Moving on: the recipe. It’s reeeeeeally yummy, if I say so myself. Just as yummy as I remember it from my meat-eating days. Not as salty, though, which is also a good thing.

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What you’ll need:

1 pound of long pasta, such as spaghetti or fettucine

6 eggs

3/4 cup of parmiggiano reggiano, grated

4 cloves of garlic

8 sundried tomatoes

1 tbsp butter

2tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

chopped parsley

And here’s what you do:

In a large pot, bring pasta water to a boil. Add plenty of salt – it should be “as salty as the mediterranean sea”.
Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it until very al dente, about a minute less than it says on the package. Stir every once in a while to keep the pasta from sticking together and to the bottom of the pot.
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While the pasta is cooking, coarsely chop the garlic and sundried tomatoes. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy pot or pan over medium low heat (a dutch oven works well because it keeps in the heat, which will help with cooking the eggs later).

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Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk until combined. Add the parmesan cheese and stir it into the eggs. Season with pepper and just a little bit of salt (not too much – remember, the cheese is salty).
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About four minutes before the pasta is done, crank up the heat under the pot with the butter and olive oil in it and add the garlic and sundried tomatoes. You want them to impart all of their flavor into the hot oil and the garlic to get cooked. You’ll want the oil to be very hot when the pasta is ready.
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And now you need to work fast:
Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the hot oil, garlic and tomatos. Stir vigorously to coat the pasta with the hot oil. Immediately after that, take the pot off the heat, add the egg mixture and stir even more vigorously, so the eggs get cooked by the hot pasta and oil but don’t become scrambled.
If you’ve worked fast enough, the eggs and cheese will turn into a creamy sauce and evenly cover the pasta. You can cover the pot with a lid and let it stand for a couple of minutes if you want to make sure that the eggs are thoroughly cooked. But don’t put the pot back onto the heat or the lovely sauce will stick to the bottom and you’ll have made a frittata.

Enjoy with a sprinkle of chopped parsley (trust me on this – it will keep you from totally stinking up the place after this garlic-fest) and a little more salt, pepper and parmesan to taste.

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