I came home to not only courgettes in my veg box but also a hoard of them at the allotment too. As I have said before, I am not a huge fan of the “courgette spaghetti” idea when courgettes replace the pasta itself. Cook the courgette until tasty and it has fallen apart. Lacking the gluten of pasta, it is never going to give your dish enough texture to hold the sauce. Why do you think pasta was invented?
But add some courgette to your pasta, and you’ve got another thing altogether. It lightens the dish, adds taste and goodness. Pasta, bacon, courgette, cream and Parmesan – a winning combination.
Spaghetti and Courgette Carbonara
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium courgettes, mix of green and yellow if available
200 g good quality spaghetti or linguini
2 large free-range egg yolks
100 ml single cream
1 large handful Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Small handful of fresh basil, shredded
Extra virgin olive oil
150g good quality thin-sliced streaky bacon, cut into tiny strips/lardons
Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Cut the courgettes in thin strips lengthways. Then cut the strips into very thin, into spahghetti like strips. Alternatively, grate it coarsely. Your water will now be boiling, so add the pasta to the pan and cook according to the packet instructions. To make your creamy carbonara sauce, put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the cream and half the Parmesan, and mix together with a fork. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper and put to one side.
Heat a very large frying pan and add a good splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta or bacon until dark brown and crisp. Take time with the bacon as all the fat should render out and it must be crisp. Add the courgette slices and 2 big pinches of black pepper, not just to season but to give it a bit of a kick. Sprinkle in the basil, give everything a stir, so the courgettes become coated with all the lovely bacon-flavoured oil, and fry until they start to turn lightly golden and have softened slightly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water. Add a couple of spoons on pasta water to the pan with the courgettes and bacon and remove from the heat and then add your cream, eggs and parmesan. Stir together quickly. (No more cooking now, otherwise you’ll scramble the eggs.) Taste quickly for seasoning, then serve and eat immediately.