Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kale Carbonara

Yes, you read that correctly: kale carbonara. Don't wrinkle your nose until you've tried it. I made it a few nights ago and I'll tell you, it was pretty tasty. Huh. I can see you're going to need more convincing....

Now, if you've been following this blog for any length of time, or spoken with me in person for more than, say, 20 minutes, you know that I am something of an improvisational cook. Well. I'd been away for the weekend at my friend Meredyth's wedding in West Virginia and thus hadn't stocked up on produce during the usual weekend farmers' market trolling. My cupboard was relatively bare, but I was HUNGRY. As I rifled through my freezer in search of edamame for a completely unrelated dish I started concocting, I stumbled across a few strips of Niman Ranch bacon I'd squirreled away. In the fridge, I discovered a few eggs... a bit of cream... a lemon.... Some fresh basil and parsley were still holding onto dear life out in the backyard garden patch.... I could only assume that the universe was telling me that I was destined for more carbonara that night. (After making my way home from my weekly volunteer shift at Brainfood an hour before, I had carbonara sauce on the brain. We'd made a quick chicken carbonara as our snack at the end of class, but I was ravenous. I blame this sudden cold front.) Yes. Carbonara would do nicely. But I had no chicken. I did have some kale that needed to be used up.

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? And I am pleased to report that this invention was downright delicious.

After much prodding by my friend Jeff, whose mouth watered so much during my relation of this latest cooking experiment earlier today that I felt bad for eating half the pot for dinner and the other half the following morning for a hearty breakfast without sharing a bite of it, I give you...

Kale Carbonara

Chop up 3-4 strips of thick-cut, pastured bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and fry in a small saucepan until almost crispy. Remove bacon to a small bowl and let cool while you proceed.

In a medium pot, boil 1/2 lb pasta. (I used fusilli, but shells or fettucini would work just as well. Actually, shoot, use whatever you have handy. I think classic carbonara is made with spaghetti anyway.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together:
-3 or 4 yolks from pastured eggs (save whites for another dish)
-the zest of 1 lemon
-1/4 to 1/3 cup cream
-a handful of freshly grated parmesan
-2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
-a few spoonfuls of freshly chopped basil
-a few spoonfuls of freshly chopped parsley
-5 or 6 kale leaves, washed, de-stemmed, and chopped into bite-sized pieces
-salt and pepper to taste

Return drained pasta to pot, turn burner to low, add in bacon pieces and egg mixture, stirring constantly until pasta is completely coated and everything is heated through. Scarf, maybe with a nice glass of white wine.

Yeah, it's not low calorie or anything, but if you use good ingredients it's not really bad for you. And it is tasty and relatively inexpensive and makes a fair bit -- enough for 2 or 3 people, anyway. Try to share, eh?

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