It’s an almost nightly discussion—what to have for dinner. My meat-loving husband wants something…well, meaty and hearty, and I want something leafy and green. Since I do most of the cooking and we don’t buy a lot of meat, I usually win on the dinner front. However, I almost never object to a bit of bacon or sausage for some extra flavor (and we almost always have a bit tucked away in the freezer).
The following dish was born out of my desire for something a little healthier and Brian’s love for traditional spaghetti alla carbonara.
For this version, I went heavy on the eggs and light on the bacon, with a big helping of sautéed greens. Brian agreed that it wasn’t any less satisfying than the Roman classic.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Leafy Greens
4 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
1 ounce freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1 large bunch tendergreen mustard* or other cooking green
2 teaspoons olive or grapeseed oil
1 ounce bacon, finely chopped
5 small garlic cloves, whole with skins removed
freshly ground black pepper
Set a large pot of water to boil. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Set aside.
To prepare the greens, remove the tough ends of the stalks (if any) and roughly chop the greens.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high in a 12-inch skillet. When the oil is hot, quickly sauté the greens with a couple pinches of salt. (This should be fairly quick, almost like stir-fry.) When the greens are wilted, remove from pan and set aside. Lower heat to medium.
Add the bacon. When the fat begins to render, add the garlic cloves. Sauté, stirring occasionally until bacon is cooked and garlic is browned. Remove from heat. Remove garlic and press through a garlic press or chop. Add back to pan.
In well-salted, boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Before draining, scoop out about ½ cup cooking water. Drain pasta.
Return the pan to medium heat. Add pasta to and about ¼ cup cooking liquid to bacon. Toss over heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add half of parmesan and beaten eggs and quickly toss to coat pasta. If needed for desired consistency, add a bit more cooking water. Add lots of ground black pepper, most of the remaining parmesan, and the greens. Toss to combine.
Serve immediately topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
*I came across this locally grown green at our co-op, where it was simply labeled “tender greens.” A staff member assured me that it was a good cooking variety. Some searching revealed that this green is in the mustard family and is often called “tendergreen mustard greens” or “tendergreen mustard spinach.” The bunch I bought was quite long and slender and fairly pale green in color. For a green related to mustard, it was surprisingly (and pleasantly) not spicy.