Joel’s Moderately Fancy Meal: Pasta Kinda Carbonara*  »

Inspiration always seems to strike when fresh vegetables are low, the stakes are high, time is short, and various other nouns have various other quantitative adjectives applied to them. At least, that’s how it works at my house. At yours it doesn’t have to, because should you find yourself in similar straits, you can use this recipe instead of thinking for yourself.
Here’s the situation: I found myself with some sad root vegetables (a couple beets, a couple carrots, what I thought was a turnip but really it’s hard to say) and the usual dry and frozen goods. WHAT TO DO. Well, I got dried pasta, canned tomatoes, and frozen fake bacon; sounds like carbonara! But I should eat a vegetable that has seen dirt within the last year. Let’s toss a beet in there! Don’t like beets? Prepare to be surprised. The sweetness goes perfectly with the bacon, and the texture adds the body that, in the traditional recipe, the egg would provide.

1/4 lb. fake bacon
5 cloves garlic or to taste (what, you got a date to kiss the queen or something? Pile it on!)
1 carrot
1 golden beet (different colors are fine, they all taste the same, but it might not look as pretty)
1/2 tsp herbes de provence
1 lb. pasta of your choice (I use mafaldine because it picks up sauce really well and is adorable)
1 28-oz. can tomatoes (don’t use fresh tomatoes this time of year, you’re asking for disappointment)
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (use a sweetened, thickened milk like plain Silk)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Heat oil in a wide, deep skillet or pan on medium heat. Coarsely chop the bacon and add to the pan. If it’s frozen, hack off your 1/4 lb. hunk and toss it in whole; rotate it so all the faces crisp while the inside thaws, then chop and proceed.

Salt the bacon heavily, and add the herbs. Coarsely chop the garlic and toss it in. Stir occasionally to keep the garlic from burning, but it’s good if some of it browns a bit. Cut the carrot into coins and throw it in. Peel and grate the beet, then clear out the center of the pan and dump the beet in. Give it a few minutes to dry, then stir just the beet, so all of it is exposed to the cooking surface. When it’s fairly dry and has gotten some color, pour in the tomatoes, and break them up with your stirring implement.

At this time, start a large pot of water boiling for the pasta. Add the milk and yeast to the sauce, stir to combine, and lower the heat to a simmer. Ignore the sauce, except for a stir every once in a while, as you tend to the pasta. When the pasta is done, the sauce will be too. Taste the sauce for seasoning, add black pepper, and toss with the pasta to serve. Delicious!

I didn’t even have a freaking onion in the house! That’s how desperately low on foodstuffs I was. You may certainly add an onion; in fact, I encourage it. Aside from that, I don’t really understand why this recipe works (although I assure you it does), so go nuts and see what happens! Post your results in the comments!

* I know this is not a real carbonara for any number of reasons.  Listen, bitches!  We’re in America now, we don’t have to do things by the rules, or produce food that Italian people would recognize!  Freedom of expression, OK??

This has been an installment of Joel’s Moderately Fancy Meal, brought to you by Joel, of Joel and Nibbler. Photo by Joel.

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