Pasta Carbonara with Leeks and Lemon

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Adapted from: Alexandra’s Kitchen
Serves 4-6

I first made this recipe a long time ago; I was probably 13 years old at the time. I usually do not ever cook the same thing twice (I’m just weird like that… I want to try out everything, meaning there’s no time to cook something I’ve already made!) but this pasta is so fab that I made an exception.

Before you wonder if this isn’t actually Haley Rich and just some impostor who uses boxed pasta, have no fear: it is, in fact, me. I just really love this specific shape of pasta with this recipe, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to shape it myself, so I left the pasta roller in the cupboard this time. Don’t worry, it’s a rare occurrence!

Anyway, the reason why I love this recipe so much is because it takes carbonara, something totally delicious but also extremely heavy, with no shortage of eggs, bacon, and cheese, and makes it a little less extreme. Of course, there’s still the eggs, bacon, and cheese here, but it’s cut with the acidity of lemon, and some of the eggs are replaced with leeks, a naturally creamy root vegetable with a unique, savory flavor. I really, really miss eating this right now.

Ingredients:

~Coarse salt and ground pepper
~9 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
~2 leeks (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and thinly sliced
~¾ pound short pasta, such as campanelle or orecchiette (I used gemelli and more like 1/2 lb)
~3 large eggs
~½ ounce Parmesan, grated (¼ cup), plus more for serving (optional)
~1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
~½ cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)

Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet. (I did not pour off any fat… it looked too good to discard.) Add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until leeks are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add pasta to pot and cook according to package instructions. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking liquid (this will be used to tie together the sauce and the pasta). In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and lemon zest and juice. Whisk ¼ cup pasta water into egg mixture.

Drain pasta and immediately add to egg mixture, along with bacon, leeks, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle with more cheese if desired and serve immediately.

Happy dining!!

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