Before I had a place of my own to call home, I would occasionally housesit/dogsit for a wonderful family. They had a gorgeous home in the country: big yard, hot tub, hammock hanging under massive cottonwood trees, beautiful sunsets. I couldn’t believe they actually paid me for the privilege of staying there. It was the best job ever.
Of course, this gorgeous home had a gorgeous kitchen: a built-in fridge/freezer stocked with great ingredients, two sinks, convection oven, gas range, top-quality knives and pans, a cookbook library. I was in heaven. And of course, when hubby and I were still dating, he’d come by and I’d make him dinner, playing the high-class homemaker and trying out whatever crazy concoction struck my fancy.
One night, I just made a simple meal of spaghetti carbonara. He liked it. He really liked it. In fact, according to him, it was a dealmaker, and the engagement ring came soon after.
That's some powerful pasta.
For me, reflecting back on this, it's an affirmation of the Laura Ingalls Wilder quote that now hangs above the sink in my own modest kitchen.
“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”
If you are not sold on this dish yet, know that this is one of the quickest, easiest meals you can make straight out of your pantry – and it’s all in one pot. Uncomplicated food + fewer dishes = more time for the simple things, like putting the baby to bed early, lingering over the kitchen table, finishing off that bottle of wine, dancing in kitchen…
Smoked Salmon Spaghetti Carbonara
Spaghetti carbonara is traditionally made with bacon or pancetta, but as always, I improvised with what I have on hand. I read somewhere that Italians NEVER mix fish and dairy - if this is true, it’s too bad, as they’ll never be able to enjoy this. Don’t freak out about dropping eggs right into the hot pasta; the egg “cooks” from the pasta’s residual heat (although anyone pregnant or ill should still take the usual precautions). If you really want to gild the lily, add some cream – but I don’t think it’s necessary. Serve with a green salad to balance this rich dish.
12 oz. of spaghetti (not quite the entire 1 lb. box - I use ½ regular noodles and ½ whole wheat noodles)
½ cup smoked salmon, broken into pieces
1 cup freshly grated parmesean cheese
Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water (do not rinse the pasta). Return hot pasta to cooking pot with about ½ cup of cooking water. Break eggs directly into hot pasta. Add cheese and stir to distribute. Add salmon, toss and serve.