All things in moderation is the theme of Modest Mondays, an online cooking series with simple recipes to help counter the effects of overeating over the weekend.
If you like your pasta creamy, but without the cream, you might want to try a carbonara. The sauce doesn’t even contain cream, but is instead made with eggs and cheese.
This Italian pasta dish is said to have been created in the middle of the 20th century in Rome. Besides the egg-cheese sauce, at its simplest, it may just have bits of bacon (or pancetta) and garlic in it.
The dish isn’t difficult to make, but certain steps need to be taken to get it right – you can’t just dump all the ingredients in one pot. Nor should it be drowned in sauce, as you often find when you have a pasta carbonara in a restaurant. Instead, according to many expert Italian chefs, the sauce should just dress all the stands of the pasta – spaghetti is common, although other long and thicker pasta is used too.
While there are recipes galore out there, I find that after a few tries, you don’t really need exact measurements anymore. Use the ingredients you like; but since this is a Modest Mondays recipe, go for moderation 🙂
And this is how you do it if you’re preparing the dish for one person. For this version, I am using leeks and mushrooms.
These are the ingredients you will need:
- sliced mushrooms (I used mini king oyster mushrooms)
- sliced leeks
- finely chopped garlic
- chilli flakes
- grated Parmesan cheese
- lemon juice (optional)
- salt and black pepper
First, fry the mushrooms and leeks (a handful of each) until cooked. Add the garlic and chilli and fry briefly. Season to taste (not too much salt as we’ll be adding cheese later). Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add salt and enough pasta for one person (about 150g).
While the pasta is cooking, stir together a small or medium egg and a handful of coarsely grated Parmesan in a bowl. The mixture should not be too runny
When the pasta is al dente, turn off the heat, remove about ¼ cup of pasta water and drain the rest of the pasta. Return the pasta to the warm pan and add the egg-cheese mixture. Immediate start stirring with a wooden spoon so that the egg does not curdle. Instead, a smooth creamy sauce should form and coat the pasta without any clumps. if it is too dry, add a little warm pasta water.
Finally, add the leek-mushroom mixture. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and serve.