Ok, I’m going to fess-up: as much as I hate to admit it, I really do enjoy Olive Garden. Their Ravioli di Portobello was the first dish I ever tried and it continues to be my favorite. Zuppa Toscana, Chicken Piccada, and Spaghetti Carbonara are also winners in my book. I don’t eat out often – and when I do it’s usually Thai – but a great dinner/movie combo for my boyfriend and I involves Olive Garden. You’d think I’d be more inclined to try to replicate scratch versions of my favorite movie night meals, yet a recipe for Zuppa Toscana has been collecting dust in my recipe box for almost a year now. Bacon must trump sausage in my mind, ’cause when I found a recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara in America’s Test Kitchen‘s 2010 Light & Healthy edition (!!!) it jumped to the top of the stack. The raw egg worried me a bit and if you are pregnant, feeding children, and/or are immunosuppressed you should use pasteurized eggs (learn how to pasteurize them yourself) or leave them out entirely. I am a healthy child-free young adult, so I took my chances and was fine.
Spaghetti Carbonara (from America’s Test Kitchen)
1 1/3 oz. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 C)
¼ C fat-free evaporated milk (I only had regular)
2 T mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 oz. Canadian bacon, chopped coarse
2 slices bacon, chopped coarse
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t pepper
1/3 C dry white wine
1 pound of spaghetti (I used whole-wheat)
1 T chopped fresh parsley (I used thyme)
- Process the cheese, evaporated milk, 1 ½ Tablespoons of the mayonnaise, egg, and egg white in a food processor until smooth – about 15 seconds. Leave the mixture in the processor.
- Cook the Canadian bacon and bacon together in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the fat has rendered and the bacon browned – about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and blot gently. Set aside.
- Add the garlic and pepper to the fat left in the skillet and cook over medium heat about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened slightly – around 1 minute. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve ½ Cup of the cooking water then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of mayonnaise until evenly coated.
- Back to the food processor: with the processor running, slowly add the wine mixture and ¼ Cup of the reserved cooking water to the egg mixture, and process until smooth and frothy. Immediately pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss to combine, adjusting the sauce consistency as needed with the remaining cooking water as desired. Stir in the bacon and season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with parsley (or herb of your choice) before serving.
This “low fat” version of Spaghetti Carbonara could fool anyone, it certainly tastes rich and flavorful enough to be served at any restaurant. I know that – with the bacon and mayonnaise – this dish still isn’t the healthiest choice out there, but man if this is the healthier version of Spaghetti Carbonara I don’t think I ever want to eat the original again. America’s Test Kitchen did a great job on this recipe (as per their usual) and while it is a bit more complicated than my usual Spaghetti with Parm & Pepper (very self-explanatory, I won’t insult you by posting a recipe), I won’t hesitate to make it again…especially for certain members of the family that love everything with bacon. Have you ever tried bacon-flecked milk chocolate? Well this guy loves it. *shudder*
Overall Enjoyment: ♥ ♥ ♥