This Incredible Pasta Dish Is Packed With Bacon-y Flavor

Photo: Courtesy of Davide Luciano/Impatient Foodie.
I dream about pasta carbonara, for reals. However, being a model for 11 years, I used to avoid certain dishes. Carbonara, with its bacon, cheese, and sometimes even cream, is one of those things that I never allow myself to indulge in. I have been known to jealously watch other people slurp it up, or look longingly at pictures of the dish in cookbooks, only to quickly turn the page and seek out lighter, healthier fare. Sigh.

Then, about a year ago, I ate some leeks that were so incredibly creamy and delicious, it got me thinking: Could I sub out some of the cream and Parmesan used in carbonara for shredded leeks? Now, granted, carbonara is never going to be a “healthy” dish — it’s got a good amount of bacon and Parmesan in it, but still, maybe I could tweak it to be a little less rich.

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When I searched online, it seems I am not the only person to have had this thought. But, no one I could find shredded the cooked leeks in a blender so they became a thick, creamy paste to add to the dish. Over a long weekend away with friends, I made this version, and the response was unanimous: “I woke up thinking about that carbonara.” Pardon my French, but it’s fucking good.

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I used Alexandra Cooks blog as a base reference for this recipe, but switched things up a bit.

Melted Leeks Carbonara
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 cup of diced pancetta or bacon*
3 eggs, whisked
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano + a small handful for finishing
3 leeks, chopped
1 package of pasta (whatever shape you like)
Zest from a whole lemon
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
Parsley for garnish (optional)

*We diced uncooked pancetta into 1/4-inch slices. Then, once it was cooked/crispy, we chopped it down even further into smaller pieces.

You’ll also need to have a dish with paper towels on it to drain the pancetta/bacon, and you'll need to save 2-3 tablespoons of bacon fat once the bacon is cooked. And, don't forget to save 1/4 cup of boiling water before you drain the pasta!       

Instructions
1. Bring water to boil, but DON’T add the pasta right away. You want the pasta to be piping hot and freshly cooked!

2. Break eggs into a bowl and whisk, add Parmesan to the bowl, set aside.

3. Place diced pancetta/bacon in flat pan over high heat and cook until brown and crispy (about 10-15 minutes).

4. Move bacon to dish with paper towels to drain.

5. Remember to save 2-3 tablespoons of bacon fat before you discard the fat!

6. Put 2-3 tablespoons of bacon fat back into same flat pan, and cook the leeks until they are completely soft, (10-15 minutes). Stir frequently so that they don't burn!

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7. Once leeks are completely soft, put them in a blender and blitz them until they're smooth.

8. Add blended leeks, lemon juice, and bacon bits to the bowl with the eggs and Parmesan, stir to mix together.

9. Put in pasta in boiling water to cook.

10. Before draining pasta, save 1/4 cup of the boiling water!

11. Drain pasta and immediately add the pasta to the bowl with eggs, bacon, Parmesan, lemon juice, and leeks.

12. The high heat from the pasta will cook the eggs and you can gradually add ¼ cup of boiling water to keep up heat and add moisture, if needed.

13. Garnish with Parmesan, lemon zest, and parsley.

14. Stuff your face immediately!
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