Pumpkin and bacon carbonara, for Rob (and everyone else)
“My pumpkin dream always has smoked streaky bacon and Swiss cheese in it…” my friend Rob mused aloud as he carved our family pumpkin at the kitchen table on Friday morning. “Like, in a sandwich… Or pasta…”
“Or carbonara?” I offered.
“Oh carbonara… Pumpkin carbonara…”
We sat there silently, grinning, two food-obsessives salivating at the thought of rich egg yolks, cream, sweet soft pumpkin, crispy bacon and cheese ensconcing hot slippery pasta… And so, this pumpkin carbonara was born…
4 fat cloves of garlic
100g streaky bacon
1 sprig of rosemary
100ml white wine (or Martini would be achingly delicious in this, I just didn’t have any… Still fantasising about what it would have tasted like though!!)
4 egg yolks
100g pumpkin purée
a fistful of spinach
50g hard, strong cheese, to serve
a generous grinding of black pepper
Peel and finely chop the garlic and lob into a pan with a knob of butter on a low, barely-there heat to soften and sweeten. (Or peel them and leave them whole for a soft, garlicky treat, if you like that sort of thing…) Chop the bacon and toss in, and strip the rosemary leaves from the stalk, finely chop them (large woody bits of Rosemary between your teeth are fairly unpleasant) and toss those in too. Give it all a good stir, and cook gently for 10 minutes to soften the garlic and crisp the bacon.
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the spaghetti and cook according to the packet instructions, usually for 8–10 minutes. And get your shit together, the next bit happens quickly!
Pour the wine over the garlic-bacon-rosemary and crank the heat up to medium/high. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolks, pumpkin purée and cream until well combined. Add half a ladle (or a few tablespoons) of the hot pasta water to the egg-pumpkin-cream and mix well. Remove the garlic-bacon-rosemary pan from the heat and slowly add the sauce, stirring well to stop it from splitting. Return the pan to a low heat to cook the egg yolks through – don’t worry if your sauce looks thin, it will thicken as it cooks.
To serve, toss the cooked spaghetti in the creamy sauce, and drop in a handful or two of (optional) spinach. Grate over a generous amount of hard, strong cheese (or something Swiss, if you want to follow Rob’s prescription to the letter) – mature cheddar, Parmesan, or my old favourite, Sainsburys Basics Hard Strong Cheese, an imitation Parmesan that packs a strong salty punch, and a good grind of black pepper, and enjoy…
TIP: If the sauce does split with enthusiastic heating, all is not lost! Put it to one side, and make a quick roux with a knob of butter and 1 rounded teaspoon of flour in a pan over a low heat. Add a splash of water or milk and mix to make a rough paste. Add a splash of the carbonara sauce, stir until smooth, and repeat until all of the sauce is incorporated. Rescued!