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Top tips for perfect pasta.

Byline: MICHAEL KILKIE

The UK asparagus season is now well and truly underway, with an abundance of fantastic fresh homegrown produce on the shelves.

So this week I'm giving you a delicious asparagus recipe - a superb classic Italian pasta dish, carbonara, with a bit of a twist - that twist being the addition of asparagus and peas which bring a light spring-like feel to the dish. There are also a few other tweaks that make the dish different and a bit lighter for this nice mild, almost summery, spring weather we have been having.

Carbonara can be quite thick and claggy but to thin it out a bit and loosen the sauce off slightly I'm adding some of the cooking water to it, which makes a huge difference. I'm also using thin slices of pancetta rather than than dice or lardons. I like to crisp the slices of pancetta up in the pan before breaking them up through the carbonara at the last minute and saving some for sprinkling over the top.

This really gives a total different texture to frying lardons in the pan. Im also charring the asparagus in a griddle pan to give a nice, slightly smoky, charred finish.

The key to a really good carbonara is good ingredients and timing - you need to be prepared with all of your ingredients and preparation as it all comes together quickly in the last few minutes.

My top tip There's lots of other things you can do to change today's dish. It's nice using chorizo instead of the pancetta and it's also nice substituting with some leftover shredded roast chicken. You could also remove the meat altogether and add other green veg such as courgettes, green beans or broad beans, making it more like a pasta primavera.

ASPARAGUS AND PANCETTA CARBONARA INGREDIENTS/SERVES 4

300g fettuccine pasta

12 slices pancetta

1 bunch of asparagus, woody stalks removed

100g frozen peas

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

100ml dry white wine

40g of butter

100g finely-grated fresh parmesan

Salt

White pepper

2tbsp olive oil METHOD Blanche the asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes then cool in iced water, drain and pat dry. Rub a griddle pan with a bit of the olive oil then griddle the pancetta over a high heat, turning occasionally until crispy then remove and break into shards.

Add the asparagus to the griddle pan and cook for a minute or so until charred then chop in to pieces leaving the tips whole. Whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks and Parmesan until smooth. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water as per the cooking instructions adding the peas for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain reserving a cup of cooking water.

Fry the garlic gently in the remaking oil in a large pan then add the white wine and reduce by half before adding the butter. Once melted toss in the pasta and peas, add the carbonara mix remove from pan he heat and mix well. Loosen off to a nice thin consistency with some of the reserved cooking water, season to taste with salt and pepper then mix through the pancetta and asparagus Serve with more grated Parmesan.

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How did your asparagus carbonara go? Let us know. Feedback, questions or favourite tips? Get in touch @michaelkilkie

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:May 5, 2019
Words:558
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