Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spaghetti Carbonara with Peas and Spring Onions

I spent yesterday afternoon readying my garden for summer.  I transferred all my tomato, cucumber and watermelon seedlings into the ground from the flat that I had started them in.  I weeded, removed old broccoli plants, and picked some beautiful carrots.  And then this crazy storm hit.  Literally in about 10 minutes it went from a sunny, cloudless and almost muggy hot day to what I imagine Kansas looks like before a tornado.  The temperature dropped 15 degrees, the sky turned dark and the wind started whipping through.  You could hear crashes throughout the neighborhood of trash cans being blown around.  I was seriously worried that we were in for some major storm.

My first thought was to all of those new little plants I had just gotten in the ground.  What would driving rain do to those precious seedlings that I grew from seeds carefully preserved from last years tomatoes?  Would they be crushed or washed away because their roots hadn't had time to take hold?
I'm happy to report that all is well today.  Within a half hour of the initial change in weather it was sunny and calm again.  We did eventually get some rain overnight, but upon inspection this morning, my seedlings are still standing tall and ready to grow into what I hope will be an abundance of fruits and vegetables this summer.  Phew!

In the meantime, I'm happily enjoying all that the spring has to offer.  This week my CSA box came to me full of English pea pods, which I happen to love, love, love.  I decided to reprise an old standard of my Mom's- noodles with bacon, cream and peas.  Only instead of cream I went with a carbonara sauce, my favorite way to eat spaghetti (simply made from eggs, cheese, and some pasta cooking water).  I loved how the sweet peas and spring onions cut through the richness of the sauce and played off the salty bacon.  Simple and just what I needed.

While the summer tomatoes are still a long way off, I'm pretty sure the peas, asparagus, onions, carrots and artichokes will be enough to carry me through the spring.
Spaghetti Carbonara with Peas and Spring Onions
Serves 4

1/2 lb dry spaghetti
4 slices bacon or 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 heaping cup shelled peas (you can use frozen peas if you can't find fresh ones at the market)
1 large spring onion or leek, white and light green parts coarsely chopped
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
3 eggs (the fresher, the better)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

In a large saute pan, cook the bacon or pancetta until crisp.  Remove and drain on a paper towel.  To the hot pan, add the spring onions or leeks.  Turn the heat to medium and slowly cook the onions until they are very soft and translucent (about 10 minutes).  The leeks and pasta should take about the same amount of time to cook, so when you put the leeks in the pan add the spaghetti to the pot of water.

With about 2 minutes left for the pasta to cook, add the peas in with the spaghetti.  Before draining, scoop out about a 1/2 cup of the pasta water and reserve.

In a large bowl, beat the three eggs.  Scrape the onions and any remaining bacon drippings from the pan into the eggs and stir in the bacon and pecorino cheese.  Toss the cooked spaghetti, peas and half of the reserved cooking water into the bowl and quickly stir.  The heat from the spaghetti will cook the eggs.  If you'd like a looser sauce, add more of the pasta cooking water a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency.  You can also toss all the ingredients in the saute pan to save yourself having to wash the bowl, but I've had a hard time with the pan being too hot and scrambling my eggs before I can get them mixed with the pasta.

Serve with additional grated cheese for topping.

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