How about a quick, easy meal for one? If you’re the only one eating, it can be difficult to take the time to put together a great meal. Instead, it’s more likely that you’ll open up a can of soup, or even worse, break open some bag of junk food to nosh on. We’ll fix that. How about a fast batch of spaghetti carbonara? You can do as we did, and even add mushrooms.
First, when you read the recipe, don’t tell us that we forgot the bacon. We know that spaghetti carbonara has bacon. At least some spaghetti carbonara has bacon. Ours hasn’t.
Oh, we know that a few of you out there don’t want to make your own pasta. In that case, use an Angel Hair pasta or Capallini — a very thin spaghetti — if you have it, and use a whole egg to make the sauce. We went with fresh pasta for two reasons: one, we love it and it’s not difficult to make, and two, we could make a black pepper flavored pasta, something you can’t get from a box.
Procedure in detail:
Make and cut spaghetti pasta. You can find full directions here, but we’ll give you the short version. In a small bowl, combine the egg white, all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt, and a generous grind of black pepper. Stir the mixture, add water, if needed, a teaspoon at a time, until it forms a stiff, but pliable, dough. Knead for 5 minutes, then wrap in plastic and let rest 30 minutes. Roll pasta very thin, then cut into spaghetti strands. Set on a rack covered with a clean dish towel.
Cook mushrooms. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add mushrooms in a single layer and allow to sear, without stirring, for about 3 minutes. Stir to flip most the mushrooms, and sear the other side for about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a large serving bowl and let cool.
Add cheese and egg yolk. Once the mushrooms are cool enough so they won’t cook the egg yolk, sprinkle the cheese over the mushrooms and put the egg yolk on top. Later, we’ll add the hot pasta, which will cook the egg, melt the cheese a bit, and warm the mushrooms.
Boil pasta. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until just slightly firm. Naturally, the amount of time it takes to cook will depend on the pasta, so check often. When it’s ready, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, before draining thoroughly.
Add pasta. Immediately add the hot pasta to the serving bowl and begin tossing the pasta to mix everything together. As you work, the yolk will cook slightly — it shouldn’t cook like scrambled eggs — making a creamy sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add just a bit of the hot pasta water and toss.
Serve. Sprinkle with a generous grind of black pepper and enjoy straight from the bowl. After all, this is sized for one person.
We liked this pretty well, but, it’s not outstanding. There’s nothing wrong with it. It tastes good, but it’s just, just, well, sort of bland. Perhaps the fat in egg yolk masks some of the pepper and cheese flavor, making it seem bland, or perhaps that’s just the way spaghetti carbonara is; either way, we’ll say four stars, as we’d try it again.