A Zoodles Carbonara Learning Curve

Ah, Carbonara! That lovely, velvety mix of eggs and cheese and cured pork products — usually with starchy pasta. While I love a good plate of pasta, I’m avoiding such things at the moment. So how am I to get my carbonara fix? Zoodles. That’s zucchini noodles. Noodles made from the ubiquitous summer squash. This isn’t the first time I’ve shared zoodles with you. Remember these?

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They really are tasty and if you close your eyes you might mistake them for pasta, right? To be truthful, no. You won’t. But in their defense, zoodles are delicious in their own squashy way.  So, I was really wanting carbonara and decided to try it with zoodles.  To be totally honest, it wasn’t perfect but I think I know where I went wrong.

Zoodle Carbonara 1

I used the fine julienne blade on my mandolin.  I figured that super skinny zoodles would work better with the creamy egg and bacon sauce than the wide ones would.  I might not make that decision again.

Zoodle Carbonara 2

To the zoodles I added the classical carbonara ingredients:  eggs, Parmesan, bacon and pepper.  Actually the classic version would use guanciale or pancetta, but since I don’t keep those around I use bacon.  Also, everything’s better with bacon!

zoodle carbonara 3

The amounts are rather fluid.  That is to say that you can adjust things to suit your taste.   I like a lot of cheese and a very generous amount of pepper.  I also believe that there’s no substitute for freshly ground black pepper.  But that’s just my opinion.

It is important to get everything prepped before starting.  Don’t ask how I know this.  Please, learn from my mistakes.  One of the mistakes that I made was to leave the zoodles as they were before adding them to the cooking pan.  Next time I will toss them with a teaspoon or so of salt and let them drain in a colander for 30 minutes to get the extra water out.  I forgot that zucchini is mostly water while pasta isn’t. Also, zucchini shrinks when you cook it and pasta swells. Like I said, please learn from my mistakes.

The process goes as follows:

  1. Mix the eggs, parm and pepper until everything is thick and almost smooth.
  2.  Fry the bacon in a larger than usual pan until it is crisp and all of the fat is rendered.  If your bacon is really lean, you might have to add a bit of olive oil.  This isn’t the time for low fat thinking.  Also, the large pan is important because everything will be in there at the end.
  3. Add the zoodles to the bacon and fat in the pan and saute them briefly to coat them with the fat and heat them through.
  4. Turn off the heat, add the egg/cheese/pepper mix and stir like crazy!  You want the eggs and cheese to turn in to a creamy sauce not scrambled eggs.  If the zucchini wasn’t salted beforehand then the sauce might get a bit watery.  If it does, turn on the heat briefly and keep stirring until the sauce comes together.  That’s what I had to do with the zoodles in the pictures.  Also, the shrinkage of the zoodles made the proportions a bit off — there’s more sauce than zoodles.  Live and learn……

Zoodle Carbonara 4

I find it best to serve the zoodles as soon as possible after cooking so that they are creamy.  After sitting for a while the sauce tends to firm up to a texture that I don’t care for.  By the way, it isn’t easy to focus on a pile of steaming zoodles.  Just thought you might find that interesting.

If you make a big enough batch you could use it as a main dish.  This time we had it as a side dish with steak.  Bill also decided that we should have sliced tomatoes because I had gotten some really ripe ones at the farm stand and they were calling his name.  Good call.

Zoodles Carbonara 5

Sadly, the zoodles carbonara aren’t exactly pretty.  They’ll be better next time — more zoodle, less carbonara.

The incorrect volumes that I used were:

Zoodles cut from 3 medium zucchini
2 Eggs
About 1/3 C Parmesan
About 1 tsp Black Pepper
3 thin slices of Bacon, diced

I would recommend either doubling the amount of zoodles or halving everything else.  Even so, they were tasty!

D.

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