Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Bacon and Asparagus

by Ginny on June 19, 2011

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Happy Father’s Day SDR readers! Nothing says Father’s Day like bacon. My gift to all the Rad Dads’ out there is this super easy Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Asparagus Coins. This dish is traditionally made with pancetta, an un-smoked Italian bacon that adds salty pork flavor without the woodsmoke overtones of American-style bacon. But in this preparation, with the earthy green hit of the asparagus, I say good old American-style bacon adds just the right boldness of flavor that dad’s love. My second gift to you, is this short story about a father-to-be: 

Last week a pair of robins began building a nest in the crook of two logs beneath the eave of our front door. It wasn’t a good spot. The curve of the logs made a shifty platform, and we came home to find the nest in a pile on the driveway not once, but twice. We weren’t sure whether to admire their tenacity, or bemoan their tiny bird brains when they began building the nest for the third time. I watched as one of them padded the cup of the nest with tufts of bright green moss. They had just started that morning, and now, a few hours later, they were putting on the finishing touches. 

“I think we should try to get rid of that robin’s nest,” Noah said, looking at the bird poop and muddy grass littering our front step.

Nooo,” I protested, “I love robins, and I like them there. I can see right into their nest from my office window.”

“But it isn’t a good spot, for us or for them,” he argued. “It’s already fallen down twice. Next time it falls, it could have eggs in it.”

He had a point. Maybe it would be best to discourage them, for everyone’s sake, including the baby-birds-to-be.

“Do what you have to do,” I finally told him. “But I don’t want to watch or be part of it.”

Noah disappeared. I heard a saw running in his shop. I heard a hammer banging in the garage. What is he up to? I wondered.

In an hour’s time, I walked into my office to grab something and there in the crook of the logs was a three-sided wooden box with a flat bottom– a perfect nook for a bird’s nest, sheltered from the rain and wind, secured in place with a couple of nails. I smiled.

Noah.

How much more could I love this man?

I wondered if the birds would take to it, covered with his human scent, but within minutes, a robin flew in with a beak full of grass. By the next morning, a mother robin was cozy in the nest, and has been ever since. Thanks to Noah, she and her eggs are warm and safe. We were warned she might dive-bomb us, but so far, she seems completely at ease with our comings and goings from The Ranchito.

It will be nice for us to watch them from my office window in the coming weeks, as we move my stuff out, and move baby furniture in; just a couple of robins building a nest.

***HAPPY FATHER’S DAY***

from The Sunday Dinner Revival

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Recipe : Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Bacon and Asparagus

Nothing could be simpler than Spaghetti alla Carbonara, in which hot pasta is quickly tossed with eggs, cheese, and bacon creating a comforting and decadent sauce. I have adapted this recipe from my favorite authentic Italian cookbook: Claudia Roden’s “The Food of Italy“. Her translations of regional Italian fare capture and illustrate the simple-is-best philosophy. Yet I couldn’t help adding a touch of green in the form of thinly sliced asparagus coins. Variations include fresh or frozen green peas, or better yet, fava beans. A few drops of white truffle oil really takes this dish to the next level, but it’s completely optional. Uncork a bottle of Prosecco or crisp Pinot Grigio, and dinner is served. Mangia!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bunch asparagus, or substitute 1 1/4 cup green peas or fava beans
  • 8 ounces smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, pressed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • salt and lots of freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • few drops white truffle oil (optional)

1. Wash and snap the woody ends from the asparagus stalks. Cut the stems into thin coins, and leave the tips whole. Set aside.

2. In a large pot, big enough to toss the pasta in, fry the diced bacon over medium heat. Once bacon is crisp-chewy, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings from the pan. Add the pressed garlic to the pan and set aside.

3. Fill a large pot with a gallon of water and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, combine eggs and cream in a small mixing bowl and whisk lightly with a fork. Set aside. Grate the cheeses and set aside. During the last minute of cooking time for the pasta, toss in the asparagus to lightly blanch it. When pasta is al dente, drain and immediately add pasta and asparagus to bacon pan over low heat. Pour in egg mixture and toss quickly to coat the pasta and cook the egg. Add cheeses, salt, and a generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper. If desired, add a few drops of white truffle oil. Toss to combine and heat through. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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