Pick-Your-Protein Carbonara

You may remember my post from a while back anticipating the arrival of some very fresh eggs.  I’m pleased to say that our hens have been very busy providing us with eggs for the past two months.  There are few things more rewarding than seeing the boys retrieve eggs from the coop every day.

IMG_20140512_145332       IMG_20140423_192314_800-1

 

We have been using them instead of store-bought eggs, but I felt like it was time to use them for something we all REALLY enjoy.  One of my personal favorite egg-containing dinners?  Carbonara.  This simple yet traditional pasta dish can be whipped up in no time at all.  Carbonara is delicious with any sort of protein on it… and it’s delicious all on its own.

While there isn’t any seafood in this dish, the possibilities are endless.  This would be great topped with shrimp, fish, scallops, or even a crab cake.  (Between hurricane season and our upcoming move, we are trying to scale back our freezer stock… so I used chicken breast.)  If you have made Carbonara before, you might notice that I use milk instead of cream and I didn’t include peas.  These modifications were simply based on the ingredients we had on-hand at the moment.  I assure you that, despite making Carbonara countless times, I couldn’t tell the difference between using milk and cream; it will save you a few calories and a trip to the store.

 

Carbonara

  • 6-8 slices of Bacon (diced)
  • 1 Shallot (diced)
  • 1 clove Garlic (smashed, but not chopped)
  • Scallions
  • 1 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 3/4 pound uncooked Pasta
  • Cooked Protein of your choice (optional)

 

P1050924

 

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package while you are preparing the sauce.  Combine the milk, egg yolks, and 3/4 cup of the parmesan cheese in a small bowl.  Two of our hens have been laying double-yolk eggs (this is common during their first months of producing eggs), so I ended up with four small yolks instead of two large yolks.

P1050931     P1050932

P1050933     P1050934

 

Start by cooking the bacon until it is crisp.

P1050936

 

Add the shallots and continue to cook only until they are soft and clear (don’t burn them).  I did this over medium heat.  Add in the scallions and the garlic and continue to cook over low heat until the pasta has finished cooking and is drained.

P1050938     P1050940

 

Keep the heat low and add in the hot, drained pasta.  Toss to combine.

P1050947     P1050948

 

Next, add in your milk/cheese/egg mixture.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Work quickly to keep the pasta moving.  You aren’t scrambling eggs here.  The yolks will cook and create a thick, silky sauce that is so rich and delicious.  Continue tossing the pasta until it is all combined.  The eggs will cook and the cheese will melt into the sauce.

P1050949

 

Top with your cooked fish or chicken, parmesan cheese, and more scallions.  Delicious!!

P1050943     P1050953

 

Don’t forget dessert… if you’re going to have a pasta dinner with eggs and bacon, you might as well include dessert.

IMG_20140623_152717

 

Lemony Pasta with Tuna

P1040468

I’m not sure exactly where this recipe originally came from, but it has been a staple in my recipe box for YEARS now.  It’s sort of a freshened-up version of tuna noodle casserole.  A lack of cream sauce and a nice lemony twist updates this old classic.  Chances are that you will have almost all these ingredients on-hand, which makes any recipe a winner in my book!

This recipe takes about ten minutes to assemble and an additional twenty minutes of baking time… just perfect for making a salad and setting the table!

Lemony Pasta with Tuna  (Serves 4-6)

  • 6-8 ounces uncooked pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cans of tuna
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

 

Start with 6-8 ounces of uncooked pasta.  Go ahead and cook it and set it aside for later use.  I only use American Tuna (see this older post for all the information on it and the reasons why).  Even though you don’t have to drain it and end up with more weight than if you use a different brand of canned tuna, I still use two cans because I like to make sure there is plenty of tuna in the dish.

P1040470     P1040473

P1040483     P1040484

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Cook the onion and garlic until tender.

P1040477

 

Add the flour, Dijon, and lemon zest.  Stir to combine and slowly whisk in the broth until it is all combined and smooth.

P1040480     P1040482

 

Reduce the heat to low and simmer until just slightly thickened.  Gently stir in the tuna and cooked pasta and mix until combined.  There should be plenty of sauce… no one likes a dry pasta dish.

P1040485     P1040489

P1040490     P1040479

 

Carefully put the pasta mixture into a greased baking dish.

P1040474     P1040491

 

Combine the breadcrumbs with the melted butter.  Spread the mixture over the top of the pasta and garnish with the sliced lemons.  This will bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until the top is browned and the edges are bubbling.

P1040488     P1040492

 

Tuna provides lots of great protein and the Omega-3’s needed for brain and heart health.  By using American Tuna, you can feed this to your entire family (toddlers, children, pregnant and nursing mothers) without any concern over mercury… AND you’re supporting American fishing families.  This product is definitely a favorite of ours.

P1040495     P1040496