Saturday, 17 October 2009

Beautiful courgette carbonara...

We have decided to start a little collection of the recipes we are cooking. This is for a couple reasons. First of all, sometimes we go through a cooking drought - we can't think or remember anything we can cook or anything we like to eat (so we are left eating soup and salad or takeaway...). This way, we'll be able to look back through things we've eaten - and remember if we liked them or not, and how easy they were to cook. Also, maybe we will be able to inspire you to try to make something new. If so, that would be pretty special.

So this is the first of our cooking entries. We hope you enjoy it.

I (Jenny) really do not cook that often. I am certainly getting better... Fred actually mentioned today that I've cooked more in the last month than in the last four years. While I think that is a slight exaggeration, there surely is a grain of truth within that claim. So, bare with me, I am just starting to get the hang of this cooking thing.

We were given a courgette. That is how this recipe started. A courgette from our very own garden and picked by our very own 85 year old landlord (sweet, right?). So, we thought we should try to make something with it.

We found this recipe in 'Jamie at home' a great little book that takes you through various recipes for different ingredients you might have in your garden (ie. courgettes) - or if you don't have a garden then in your local grocery store!

It was really easy to make, pretty darn cheap (you probably have a lot of the ingredients already), and got rave reviews from both the critics on the first attempt of making it - which means it's pretty fool proof. Oh, and we halved the recipe - as there are only 2 of us (and as presented bellow it serves 4), and it made plenty of food for us.

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 medium green & yellow courgettes (we used 1 large green one and that was plenty)
500g penne
4 large eggs
100ml double cream
2 good handfulls of parmesan
olive oil
12 thick slices of pancetta or streaky bacon
a small bunch of fresh thyme (we used dried)

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 packet instructions.

To make your creamy cabonara 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.

Heat a very large frying pan, 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.

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.)

Get everyone around the table, ready to eat straight away. While your 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. Serve immediately, as the sauce can become thick and stodgy if left too long.

Final Verdict
Highly recommended.
Expense: 2/10
Difficulty Level: 3/10
Tastiness: 7/10

p.s. the photo is a bit wonky because the battery on the camera was dead and so I ate most of it before it charged enough to take a photo.

oh, and if you are left scratching your head and wondering what a courgette is - it translates to zucchini in America.


Margaret said...

WOW Jenny is cooking more that is wonderful. Maybe you were cooking more this past month because you were out of school. Well I will have to try your recipe for sure. Dad always loves it when I boil them, scoop the inside out, fry it and add eggs and cheese. Then I put it all back into the courgette and top if off with cheese. Put it in the oven and POOF you have a nice side dish. Keep up the great work, can hardly wait for you to cook for me at Christmas. Where is the picture of the cheesecake?

jennifer said...

cheesecake is coming later, because that's what freddy made and he hasn't had a chance to put it up yet. it turned out really well though!