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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Spaghetti "carbonara" with leeks and pea shoots

My plan for dinner this evening was to make something fast, delicious and relatively healthy (I'm battling a cold right now) that would also allow me to use up the stockpile of leeks wilting in my refrigerator. I often make a carbonara style pasta as a quick supper as it's incredibly simple and we usually have eggs on hand. A true carbonara would include bacon or pancetta, bacon or pancetta fat, and a lot more cheese. I like to tell myself that using a modest amount of Prosciutto and a dusting of Parmesan makes it lighter.  I also gave myself bonus points for incorporating vitamin-packed pea shoots (which also happen to be my latest food obsession). I love it when a plan comes together!

The amount of pasta water required at the end depends somewhat on the type of pasta you use. I used whole wheat pasta which tends to soak up more sauce. Use as much as you need to achieve a silky smooth consistency. 

Makes 2 servings

drizzle of grape seed oil
4 slices Prosciutto
1 leek, thoroughly washed, roots and tips removed
handful of pea shoots (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 eggs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
120 grams spaghetti or other long pasta (about 1/3 standard package)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup reserved pasta water (approx)

Slice the leek in half lengthwise and then chop each half into 1/4" pieces. Slice the Prosciutto into thin strips and sprinkle into a saute pan along with a light drizzle of grape seed oil. Saute on medium-high heat til the Prosciutto begins to brown. Add the leeks and a generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. Stir and let cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan with a lid and let cook for 4-5 minutes until the leeks are soft.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt generously. Add the pasta. While the pasta cooks, crack two eggs into a bowl, add the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and whisk. Set aside.

Once the leeks are softened, add the pea shoots to the pan. Stir, cover, and cook for 3-5 minutes until the pea shoots have wilted slightly but are still tender. Once the pasta is al dente, drain (don't forget to save at least 1/2 cup of pasta water) and add to the pan with the leeks and pea shoots. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly add the egg mixture while tossing the pasta (tongs work well here). You want to coat the pasta with the egg and keep it moving so it doesn't scramble. Add a small amount of the reserved pasta water and continue tossing. Continue adding small amounts of pasta water until the desired consistency is achieved.  Serve with a light dusting of freshly grated Parmesan.

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