Monday, August 4, 2008

Zucchini carbonara

Carbonara is a pasta dish that is made with eggs and cream and, normally, bacon. You can make it a bit lighter and vegetarian (and tastier in my opinion) by using zucchini browned in olive oil instead. I got this recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. It turned out really nicely, so I'll definitely be making it again, even though my first attempt ended in disaster and a broken hand-me-down Pyrex bowl.

The recipe calls for heating the bowl in the oven. I heated the bowl in a 450 degree oven and then cracked a cold egg into it. To my surprise, the bowl shattered violently, spewing melted cheese and raw egg all over the counter. Lesson learned -- heat the bowl with hot water instead. The warm bowl and hot pasta will be enough to cook the egg.

This would have been even better if I had had better cheese. A couple of weeks ago, desperate for parmesan late in the evening after Weaver Street Market had closed, I bought Digiorno cheese from Harris Teeter. It's not terrible, but it's definitely not as flavorful (or as hard) as a better cheese.

Zucchini Carbonara
adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Serves 2

1.5 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium zucchini, sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
1 large egg
0.5 cup freshly grated parmesan
0.4 oz long pasta (I used vermicelli)
2 tbsp chiffonade of basil
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Once pan is very hot, add zucchini and onion. Boil water, salt, then add pasta. Cook vegetable mixture until zucchini is browned and onions are caramelized, about 10 minutes. Heat a large glass or ceramic bowl with hot water, then whisk egg and cheese together. Drain pasta once al dente, and add immediately to bowl. Stir together. Pour vegetable mixture over pasta and sprinkle basil, salt, and pepper on top.

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