Asparagus Shiitake Carbonara

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Congratulations! We made it through another week! Doesn’t it often feel like you’ve finished a marathon by Friday night? Like you walk through the door and there should be confetti and a medal and champagne?

Well, I suppose there is confetti for me. In the shape of tiny legos scattered all over the house.

And it does look like I’m wearing a medal since I didn’t notice the giant circular peanut butter smear the little one planted on me this morning.

And champagne, well I can do something about that.

In our house, making it to Friday night deserves a celebration. But not too big of a celebration since we only have 30 minutes to dinnertime. So, pasta is a go-to Friday night meal. A little decadent and a lot easy.

Since I’m embracing spring, even if it won’t embrace me back, I springed up a classic decadent pasta dish–Carbonara–by adding asparagus and shiitakes to the classic eggs, cheese and pancetta.

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I only recently discovered Carbonara and I can’t believe I’ve spent this much of my life in the dark. It’s basically tossing spaghetti with the easiest hollandaise sauce and then adding cheese. And bacon. And anything else that makes you happy. Right now asparagus and mushrooms make me happy. And wine. Like a Soave. Or even champagne would do well here. Yeah, there’s my happy place.

Hey look, confetti. Nope, that’s just a lego that landed in my eye. Oh well, it’s the weekend. Cheers to Friday!

Asparagus Shiitake Carbonara

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Asparagus Shiitake Carbonara

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound thick pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/4 inch by 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound shiitakes, stems discarded and caps sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 pound asparagus, tough woody ends snapped off and stalks cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced in half
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I like a mix of Parmesan and Romano)
  • parsley

Instructions

  1. Start the pasta water for boiling.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and bacon and cook until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove to a plate.
  3. Skim off some of the fat until there is 2 Tablespoons remaining. Saute the mushrooms in the fat until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove to plate and turn off skillet.
  4. When the pasta water is boiling, add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute, just until blanched. Skim off and put in an ice bath.
  5. Add the salt to the pasta water and cook pasta until al dente--9 to 10 minutes.
  6. While the pasta cooks, rub the cut garlic all over the inside of a large bowl.
  7. Whisk the eggs in the bowl until frothy. Whisk in wine and cheese.
  8. When the pasta is almost finished, grab 1/2 cup of the pasta water and whisk into the egg mixture.
  9. Drain the pasta and toss into the sauce with the pancetta, asparagus, and shiitakes. Toss the pasta into the sauce constantly until it's thick and coats each piece of pasta equally.
  10. Serve, topped with parsley.
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Someone was surprised that my kids would eat carbonara and I’m not sure if that’s because they’re surprised that a kids would eat it, or if they were surprised that I would serve it to my kids since the eggs start raw in the sauce. Why anyone would be surprised about kids eating a creamy, cheesy, bacon-y spaghetti is beyond me, so it must be because of the raw eggs. So let say something about that: when you’re making the sauce you add boiling pasta water to the eggs and cheese and then add steaming hot pasta and stir constantly until all of the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick and creamy. The eggs are not raw. But if they’re not fully cooked, I do buy farm fresh eggs from the farmers market so I don’t worry too much about fully cooking eggs for them. We love over-easy eggs with a dippy center so this really isn’t any different.

If you’re still a little ooged out by the undercooked eggs, just pop the pasta back in a hot pan and heat. Or microwave individual portions. It ruins the consistency in my opinion, but you can guarantee cooked eggs.

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Linguine with Pecan-Arugula Pesto and a giveaway!

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Happy Spring everyone! I’m so excited to have that awful winter behind us and officially set the calendar to “spring”. I absolutely love spring; the weather is pleasant, the flowers are blooming, and everyone just seems so darn happy (including me!). Some of my favorite things about spring are:

1. Cherry Blossoms. I’ve lived in the DC area for nearly 15 years and I don’t think I’ve missed seeing the cherry blossoms once. Walking around on a gorgeous spring day with flower petals wafting through the air…it’s just magical.

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2. Farmers markets! Our farmers markets close for the winter, but they open again in April and May. And I just dive into that spring produce: asparagus, greens, ramps, squash blossoms, strawberries, peas. I can’t get enough.

3. Gardening. I’m an awful gardener. I have a patio where I like to fill planters with herbs, vegetables, and flowers. My plants always end up dead or overgrown by the end of summer, and my vegetables never really produce any actual vegetables. But every spring I get to start with a clean slate and try again. Maybe this will be the year that my plants will stay gorgeous all summer long and I will actually grow some vegetables!

0314 a year in a vegetarian kitchenTo celebrate the first day of spring, I’m offering a giveaway! One of my favorite cookbooks is A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop of Cooks Illustrated. The cookbook is organized by seasons and is completely vegetable-centric so is an amazing way take advantage of the best seasonal produce. While we’re not vegetarian, I try to make most meals that start with vegetables and go from there, so I use this cookbook often!

One of my favorite recipes is to make pesto out of just about anything. This Pecan-Arugula pesto from the cookbook is an awesome combination of rich, nutty pecans and sharp, peppery young arugula.

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Linguine with Pecan-Arugula Pesto

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups packed stemmed arugula leaves
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for the table
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt
  • 1 pound linguine

Instructions

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot for cooking the pasta.
  2. Place the nuts in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toast, shaking the pan occasionally to turn the nuts, until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Cool the nuts.
  3. Process the cooled nuts, arugula, and garlic in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the ingredients are finely ground. With the motor running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube and process until thick and fairly smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl large enough to hold the cooked pasta. (The pesto will be very thick.) Stir in the cheese, the nutmeg, and salt to taste. (Salt the pesto generously; it has to season a pound of pasta.)
  4. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook until the pasta is al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and daring the pasta. Stir 1/2 cup of the cooking water into the bowl with the pesto to achieve a saucier consistency. Add the pasta to the bowl and toss, adding more cooking water as necessary to moisten the pasta and help spread the pesto. Serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.

Notes

from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop

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5 chances to win! Make sure to leave a comment about each of ways you entered to be counted. Winner will be selected by random.org. U.S. residents only. Giveaway starts on Thursday, March 20 and ends at 9pm EST on Tuesday, March 25.

To enter:

1. Leave a comment telling me what is your favorite thing about spring.

2. Follow @gourmetmommy on twitter and tweet the following: Happy Spring! I’ve just entered to #win a #vegetarian seasonal cookbook from @gourmetmommy. http://wp.me/p4gDMM-CW #giveaway

3. Like Gourmet Mommy on Facebook and share this Facebook post

4. Follow GourmetMommy2 on Pinterest

5. Subscribe to Gourmet Mommy updates by email or RSS (link in sidebar)

Please remember to leave a comment for each of the ways you enter. Otherwise only one entry will be counted. If you already like me on facebook or follow me on twitter or pinterest, that counts! Just share a post about this giveaway and let me know by leaving a separate comment.

I wasn’t compensated for this giveaway, I just wanted to share one of my favorites.

Official Rules:

To enter leave a comment.

U.S. residents only.

One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random, using random.org. I will email the winner and they will have up to 3 days to claim their prize or another winner will be selected. 

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs kids cooking foodFeatured Recipe: Spaghetti & Meatballs
Featured Pairing: Chianti (why mess with a classic?)

There is nothing better than a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs on a cold winter night, especially if your kids are doing most of the cooking! Mixing and shaping are a great activity for little hands if they’re old enough to know to wash their hands after touching raw ingredients. Conveniently leaving your hands free for supervising and sipping.

This recipe makes enough for 8 servings of meatballs. I like to freeze half of them individually on a cookie sheet, and then transfer them to a vacuum sealed bag. Then just add them to your sauce and simmer for 20 minutes or so. That way you can have sketti night any night!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

spaghetti and meatballsServes a big meal for 4 with enough meatballs for a second dinner

Ingredients:

Meatballs IngredientsMeatballs:
1 cup course homemade bread crumbs (torn up pieces of stale bread, or fresh bread if you don’t have stale)
1 cup milk
1 medium onion (or 1/2 large), minced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped (or parsley if you don’t have celery tops laying around)
1 pound lead ground beef
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion (or 1/2 large), diced
1 clove garlic
1 glass of red wine, optional
1 quart canned tomatoes, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound pasta
fresh basil, optional
extra cheese, optional (who are you kidding?)

Instructions:

Start the sauce. Saute onions in olive oil until translucent, approx 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic and heat through, 1 minute. If you like, pour that glass of wine you’re drinking in; while the wine cooks down, refill yourself. When the wine is nearly gone (in the pot), pour in the tomatoes and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, then put it on the back burner on low until the meatballs are done.

Heat the oven to 400.

Kid-friendly cooking. From here on out, nearly all of the steps are kid-friendly for ages 4 and up. But first give them lectures on the need for clean hands, and make sure they know not to put their fingers in their mouth after touching the raw meat.

spaghetti and meatballs kids cooking collageIn a small bowl, combine the milk and bread bits. Let sit while you do the rest.

In a large bowl, crack the eggs and lightly whisk them. Add the onions, garlic, celery, meats, cheese, and seasonings. With your hands, scoop the bread out of the milk and add to the large bowl. You may have a bit of leftover milk that you’ll need to discard, but the bread should have soaked up a good portion of it.

Form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and inch or two apart. If your hands get too sticky, run them under cold water and you’ll be good to go. This is a good time to get dad to jump in and help too. You should make approx 32 meatballs.

End kid-friendly cooking.

Put the meatballs in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, until the meatballs are brown and just cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, stir a cup or so of sauce over the pasta so it doesn’t stick.

When the meatballs are done, toss them into the sauce just to coat.

Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta, topped with fresh basil and cheese.spaghetti and meatballs with copySpaghetti and meatballs kids cooking food

Presents Galore, and Rigatoni with Cauliflower

The morning after Christmas, everyone is playing with their new toys. It’s a beautiful sight. Nicholas is practicing becoming a rock star with his new keyboard and microphone that Santa brought him. Nicholas the rock starDan is wearing his new shoes. And I’m playing with a new look on my site thanks to Dan! What do you think of the logo? He surprised me with it, and I love it!

I’m also having total gift envy. My sister got Tyler Florence’s new book Start Fresh–baby food recipes for the first year. It looks awesome: Spinach and Banana pudding, Plum Spiced Applesauce, babies never knew they could have it so good. Katie hasn’t really taken to solids much yet, but we’ll be kicking it into high gear when we get back from holiday. So it looks like I’ll be getting one extra gift for myself this year!

That, plus my new food saver system, and we should be ready to get Katie eating just like her big brother. Who is currently eating his second breakfast. Man, that kid can eat.

So, baby food to come in the new year! But for now, how about a pasta recipe? Rigatoni with Roasted Cauliflower. So easy after our big Christmas dinner.

Cauliflower Rigatoni

Weekly Menu: Lentils, Cauliflower (and yes, the kids will love it)

I’m feeling the need to eat a ton of veggies this week, but there’s just not a whole lot in season anymore. Carrots, leeks, and cauliflower can still be found though so I’ve snapped them up. Salmon with Lentils eating

The week starts with Ina Garten’s Lentil Soup–which is amazing. It’s chock full of carrots, leeks, celery and delicious French lentils. The recipe also makes a TON. Way more than we can eat before we get sick of it. So I used some of the leftovers, strain the broth, and serve on the side of grilled salmon for a classic combo that comes together in a couple of minutes. Any remaining soup can be pureed with cooked brown rice for a healthy stage 3 baby meal.

Finally, on Friday’s we love to make pasta as an end of week treat. So I’ll roast up some cauliflower and toss it with rigatoni, capers, and red pepper flakes. Add an interesting Italian white and voila! A week of delicious, and fairly healthy, eating!

Menu #1:Lentil Soup

Ina Garten’s Lentil Soup
Grilled Chicken Sausage
Garden Salad

Menu #2:Salmon with Lentils

Salmon with Lentils
Swiss Chard

Wine: Pinot Noir

Menu #3:Cauliflower Rigatoni

Rigatoni with Roasted Cauliflower and Capers
Wine: Medium bodied Italian white (like a Soave)

Shopping List

4 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin on
chicken sausage
1 pound French green lentils–Whole Foods sells these in the bulk foods bins
onions–3 large
leeks–2
garlic
celery
carrots
1 pound swiss chard
cauliflower
olive oil
red wine vinegar
capers
3 quarts chicken stock
kosher salt
black pepper
thyme
ground cumin
red pepper flakes
tomato paste
rigatoni
Parmesan cheese
pecorino romano cheese
crusty Italian bread