I find that during the bitterly cold winter months my enthusiasm for cooking dwindles somewhat. I can’t hide the fact that slaving over a hot stove does elevate my body temperature, but I must admit that I’d much rather be spending my time all wrapped up in front of the fire. Daylight saving also curbs my enthusiasm. It seems to completely throw me off my cooking game. I can spend the same amount of time in the kitchen (preparing a meal) as I would in summer, but I swear that in winter my legs threaten to give way from beneath me, convinced that the time for meal preparation has been and gone. My eyes solidify this conclusion because, of course, it is now dark outside. Everything in my physical being is thrown completely out of whack. So … being a busy working mum who thrives on productivity, I have devised a plan. That plan is to make my Monday to Friday meals quick, very quick. For me, ‘quick’ is about 20 minutes. Below is one of the latest editions to my inventory of speedy suppers.
Parmesan, Basil & Bacon Carbonara
500g pasta – any kind you like, but I prefer fresh spaghetti or fettuccine
1 cup or a big handful of fresh basil leaves
200ml fresh cream
1 finely chopped onion
4 finely chopped large cloves of garlic
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
300g streaky bacon cut in to strips
A lot of freshly ground black pepper. Carbonara actually comes from the Italian word ‘carbone,’ which means coal. Coal is meant to signify the black bits in the dish, i.e. the pepper, so don’t hold back on it.
Salt. Olive oil. Start by bringing a pot of water to the boil, following the directions for your chosen pasta.
Make sure there is plenty of salt in the water.
While your pasta is cooking, put a splash of olive oil in a large pan. Once the oil is hot, add your bacon strips. The strips need to be crispy but not burnt so it is important you monitor them. They won’t take long. When done, take the bacon out of the pan and set aside.
Pop some more olive oil back in to the same pan. Brown your onions and then your garlic.
Throw in your cream and turn down to a low heat to simmer. Whisk intermittently for a couple of minutes adding lashings of salt and pepper. We just want to thicken the cream a bit over the heat.
Once your pasta is cooked ‘al dente’, drain it in a colander and place in a large serving bowl.
Pour your creamy sauce over the pasta and toss. Sprinkle over your crispy bacon strips, grated parmesan and basil leaves. Note that you can rip up the basil leaves or throw them in whole. Add lashings of cracked pepper and a good pinch of salt. Toss again.
Wipe any excess sauce from around the rim of the bowl like the professionals do. Top with any remaining bits of bacon or basil and serve. Buon Appetito!