I just love how Jamie Oliver calls summer squashes ” courgettes”. It makes me feel like I’m using an exotic vegetable in this traditional dish. I’m always inspired by his TV show when he goes out to his beautiful kitchen garden, picks whatever is fresh and puts together the most amazing looking dishes.
Summer squash has a nice long season. So long, in fact, that it may be a challenge to find different ways to use it. The “baby squash” (as opposed to “toddlers” and “adults”) from Growing Things Farm look like they are picked the day they appear on the plant. Just a few days later they can expand beyond recognition into rotund adulthood. I love the tender little babies, especially the patty-pans. Not that there is a huge difference in taste between these and zucchini, but the name is so sweet.
Last weekend on our way to the Anacortes ferry, we made our usual stop at Silvana Meats, a great local resource near Arlington. We usually take along a cooler and stock up. This time they had some prosciutto left over from a special order so I couldn’t resist trying it. It worked beautifully in this pasta dish and makes me wish I had bought more.
With the right ingredients, pasta with carbonara sauce is a simple dish that can not only be local, but can be made with a variety of veggies, depending on the season. Here is the recipe for two servings:
Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil to cook the pasta.
Jamie Oliver uses penne in his recipe and cuts the squash at an angle so the shape of the pieces are penne-like. I love that idea and I did my best but somehow mine didn’t look like his.
Cut up 5-6 small squashes, at an angle, if you can.
Heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Cut 4-5 pieces of bacon or prosciutto into 1 inch pieces. Fry the meat until it is crispy and the fat is rendered. Add squash and stir-fry until it starts to soften. Add lots of fresh thyme and ground pepper.
At this point you could use this mixture in a frittata or over a bed of lettuce for a warm salad instead of pasta if you prefer.
Cook the penne and drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the liquid to use in the sauce later.
Add cooked penne to the squash mixture and toss so that the pasta gets coated. Remove from the heat.
In a small bowl whisk 2 egg yolks and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Add a few handfuls of grated parmesan cheese and stir.
The next step is the only tricky part of the recipe. Add the egg sauce to the pasta, after the pasta has cooled slightly. If the eggs are added when the pasta and veggies are too hot, you will have scrambled eggs instead.
Add the reserved pasta water to the pan, thinning out the sauce. (You can add more or less pasta water, depending on the consistency you like). In my mind, this step makes the whole dish come together and lightens it up.
Pour a little olive oil and sprinkle more fresh thyme leaves on top. Mamma Mia!