Spaghetti Carbonara is the mac n’ cheese in my kitchen, for sure. It was easy as pie to win my kids over with this family favorite early on in their life since it contained food on their most-wanted list – spaghetti, cheese and, well… bacon. Before my daughter could even form words into a sentence, she’d order herself a plate of bacon in a restaurant just by waving her fork at someone else’s breakfast plate and moaning.
Over time, I’ve adapted my recipe to include all shapes of pasta, depending on whatever I happen to have on hand. I’ve been known to use frozen baby peas in my Carbonara, but that isn’t a hard and fast rule either. When zucchini is growing in the garden during the summer, in it goes.
The buttery, toasted spicy breadcrumbs are a recent addition to my usual recipe. I love this crunchy garnish, a rustic addition I use with or sometimes without additional cheese, which is traditional in the regional cooking of Italy’s boot heel.
Zucchini Spaghetti Carbonara
Makes 4-6 servings
3 slices crusty bread such as ciabatta, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
¼ pound sliced prosciutto, cut into strips
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 medium zucchini, sliced into matchsticks or grated in box grater or food processor
Salt and fresh black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
Freshly chopped Italian parsley or fresh basil
Heat the oven to 375°F. Toss the bread with the melted butter and chile flakes on a large baking sheet; toast in the oven until crunchy and golden in color, about 15 minutes. Cool and grind the bread in a food processor or blender to form coarse, chunky crumbs.
Bring a large stockpot of water to boil for the spaghetti.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the prosciutto and cook until the pieces begin to crisp. Stir in the shallot and cook until softened. Add the zucchini to the pan and cook a 2 – 3 minutes, stirring. Season to taste with salt and black pepper – you might not need much salt depending on how salty the prosciutto is, so taste first. Remove the pan from the heat and keep warm while you cook the spaghetti.
Add 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water then add the spaghetti, cooking until al dente.
Scoop out and reserve 1/3 cup of the water before draining the spaghetti. Whisk the hot water into the beaten eggs a few tablespoons at a time to temper them. Stir the cheese into the eggs.
Put the hot spaghetti in a large bowl and immediately pour the egg mixture over. Add the zucchini mixture to the bowl and toss everything together to coat the spaghetti. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parsley over the spaghetti and serve with additional Parmesan cheese.
dinner, pasta, summer, zucchini
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