Living in San Francisco definitely has its perks. Beautiful weather, rolling hills, charming period style housing, the Full House opening montage, and produce. Yes, I said produce. I realize this is not the first thing that should come to mind when you think of the city by the bay, but they grow everything here, and there's a farmers market around every corner with the day's most perfect, vitamin-packed gems screaming your name. Organic, locally grown fruits and veggies available at your disposal no matter what time of year it is. It truly is a luxury. Now I don't want to give you the wrong impression, John and I are definitely not those people that have been suckered into the buy only organic craze, but we do strongly believe in supporting the local food community whenever we can.
This being said, we subscribe to a produce home delivery service, Farm Fresh to You, that sources all of their goodies from their own farm, Capay Organic. We get a box every other week delivered right to our doorstep and the contents are always a wonderful surprise. It keeps us on our culinary toes, as we are always faced with the challenge of eating seasonally (which can be especially difficult in the winter months when your box is filled with cabbage and bok choy for months on end), figuring out how to cook things we'd never even heard of before (like kohlrabi), and trying to race the clock and eat everything before it goes bad. Tuesday night I was faced with the usual conundrum of what things to save from vegetable hell, otherwise known as our compost bin. There was a bunch of beets from 2 boxes prior that had managed to cheat death, collard greens, 4 small bulbs of fennel, a bag of lettuce, and a bunch of swiss chard. Decisions, decisions. Eeny, meeny, miney, mo...blah, blah, blah, catch a tiger by the something, my mother told me to pick the very best one, and you. are. not. ....it! Looks like the salad and swiss chard weren't going to make the cut and had to face another day in the cold, dark, leaky box that is our refrigerator.
My first inclination was to do a simple hash with a fried egg on top, but that seemed a little too ordinary for this particular Tuesday evening. I rummaged through our cabinets looking for something to spark an idea. Despite the fact that our pantry looks like a war zone, I managed to gain some inspiration from a humble bag of spaghetti that was buried under mounds of mismatched tupperware. Spaghetti carbonara with a twist! This is my take on a classic Italian dish made from pasta, bacon, garlic, eggs, and cheese. Throw a few roasted veggies on top for good measure and you've got quite a meal on your hands. The sweetness of the caramelized vegetables compliments the saltiness of the bacon and cheese, balancing out the dish and adding a surprising layer of flavor to this classic.
Spaghetti Carbonara with Roasted Vegetables
1 small bunch of beets, par boiled and peeled
4 small bulbs of fennel + fronds
1 bunch collard greens
1 yellow onion
1 lb of spaghetti
1 1/2 cups of grated parmesan cheese
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 lb bacon, sliced into lardons
3/4 cup of dry white wine
preheat oven to 400 degrees
Bring large stock pot filled with salted water to a boil. Slice the fennel, onion, and beets. Mince a small handful of fennel fronds and save for later. Remove collard leaves from the stems and chop into bite size pieces. Toss vegetables in olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place into large roasting pan and cook in oven for 30 minutes or until soft and golden brown around the edges.
Once water comes to a boil add pasta and cook until slightly underdone, a little bit firmer than al dente. While the vegetables are roasting whisk eggs, cheese, and freshly ground black pepper into a large mixing bowl. Set aside until pasta is done cooking. In a large saute pan render bacon until crispy. Remove from pan and set on a paper towel to remove excess fat. Drain off excess bacon fat , reserving 2 tablespoons in pan. Saute garlic in bacon fat until softened, about 2 minutes.
Drain pasta and add to pan with softened garlic. Stir to coat, then add white wine. Cook on medium heat until the pasta has absorbed all of the liquid. Add bacon back to the pan and toss pasta again to incorporate. Next add the pasta to the egg and cheese mixture and toss continuously to make sure the eggs do not scramble, about 2 minutes. Add in reserved fennel fronds and mix in completely. Plate pasta and then top with roasted veggies and garnish with finely grated parmesan cheese.