One of the many lucky things that came with being raised in my family is a love for cooking paired with a healthy disregard for recipes and tradition. My mother made me what she called pasta carbonara for lunch often when I was a child; it was my favorite, as well as being fast and easy. It wasn’t until I was on my own that I realized that not only was her version of this cheesy, bacon-y delight nontraditional, it was…. well nigh heretical. You see, my mother used cheddar in place of most of the Parmesan or Romano cheese– and it was delicious. I made the traditional version using recipes from blogs several times before I finally called her in despair to admit defeat. Because of the dish’s most obvious admirable characteristics– it’s cheap, fast, healthy and delicious– I’ve made it enough times to have a preferred version of my own… it’s all veggied up, of course!
3 oz dried pasta (I like shells or other small, asparagus-bite sized pieces)
1 t neutral oil
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 oz prosciutto, cut or torn into small pieces
1/4 medium onion, diced
3/4 c asparagus cut into small pieces (though peas and green beans are good substitutes, and red pepper subs in nicely for half)
1/2 egg (I mix mine in a container with a lid, use half for the recipe, and store half for next time)
1/4 c cheese (I prefer Romano, but any or a mix will do)
Minced fresh parsley, optional
Pepper, freshly cracked if possible
Bring a pot of salted water up to boil while you prep your vegetables. When it comes to a boil, add your pasta.
In a medium saute pan, “toast” your prosciutto on medium heat until slightly crispy, then remove to your bowl.
Add oil to the pan and cook the onions and red pepper flakes for ~ 1 minute or until fragrant. Add asparagus and cook until asparagus is at your preferred temperature. Remove to your bowl.
When the pasta is just a bit firmer than you’d like it to be, reserve 1/4 c of your cooking water. Drain the pasta and add it to your saute pan over medium heat immediately. Add in the egg, cheese, and half of the cooking water, stirring constantly until it forms a creamy sauce. Add the contents of your bowl, parsley, and as much pepper as you enjoy and stir another 30 seconds. Add the rest of the water if it isn’t saucy enough for you.
Toss back into your bowl and eat ASAP.