A Tale of Two Carbonaras

So I’ve had something labeled as carbonara twice this week (don’t tell my cardiologist). Both tasty, neither really carbonara.

The first was at a Marriott in the Washington DC suburbs, that was a big pile of creamy goo: way too much cream, way too much sauce in general.  Crisp bacon crumbles appeared to have been stirred into an alfredo-like sauce, as opposed to being the source for the richness of the dish.  It had peas, which I kind of like (yay, I ate a vegetable!) even if it isn’t traditional.  But having a huge amount of cheese-and-cream sauce, rather than an eggy coating on the noodles, is just wrong. Delicious.  But no, it’s wrong.  Very very wrong. (I made up for it the next night by introducing several people to the authentic Chinese joy that is eating at Joe’s Noodle House in Rockville)

Meanwhile, I’d bought a spaghetti squash the last time I went shopping, hoping to find another vegetable that Sue’s willing to eat, save a few carbs etc.  A couple days later, TheKitchn blog posted a recipe for a baked spaghetti squash carbonara.  Even though I could see it’s not traditional, it sounded like a nice meal.  So the night after I got back from the business trip, I microwaved a split, cleaned-out spaghetti squash, mixed it with eggs, ricotta, parmesan, salt, pepper, onions cooked with pancetta (the recipe called for standard bacon), and added a couple things I thought would be good: a little fresh sage picked from the garden (yes it’s winter in Chicago, but I can usually find a few decent leaves even here in Chiberia), and a pinch of fresh-ground nutmeg. Both go well with squash, and just added enough to enhance, not become the main flavor.

Verdict?  Not spaghetti carbonara.  Too quiche-like, and the squash loses its noodle-like texture in the 45-minute bake.  Nice flavors of egg, cheese and bacon, salty and not too rich. It’s make a great brunch dish. I only made a 3/4-size batch (my squash was smaller and I scaled everything else down), but it still was more than twice what Sue and I could eat for dinner.  It was really good cold for lunch today too.

Get the recipe from theKitchn, and add a little fresh sage and nutmeg.




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