Hello! I’m Colleen from Culinary Colleen. Thanks for letting me guest blog while you’re busy!
I came up with an interesting summer (and vegetarian) twist on spaghetti alla carbonara the other weekend. Wanting to incorporate summer vegetables in my cooking as much as possible before the season is over, I made a “carbonara-style” dish with fresh grilled corn and arugula.
Discovering real carbonara was a momentous day for me. I grew up eating the heavy, cream-laden type of carbonara, never even realizing that cream isn’t in the original dish at all. The original dish gets its creaminess from eggs and freshly grated parmesan cheese, and while still creamy, it tastes much lighter.
The method is simple, but has to be done quickly. The idea is to mix the hot pasta with the eggs so that the eggs thicken and form a sauce without curdling. I’ve found as long as the pasta is hot enough, and you don’t put the egg and pasta mixture back on the heat after tossing (and believe me, I have made this mistake before), it always works out beautifully.
I’ve experimented with all sorts of “carbonara-style” dishes – even vegetarian ones for my vegetarian boyfriend. Yes, the traditional guanciale lends a fabulous salty, porky flavor throughout, but I sometimes use smoked paprika to get that missing flavor.
In this most recent version, I added grilled corn and arugula. The sweet corn was nicely offset by the peppery arugula, and some smoked paprika breadcrumbs on top added extra smoky flavor and a little crunch. It didn’t even need the pork!
Grilled Corn and Arugula Carbonara with Paprika Breadcrumbs
For the spaghetti:
- 5 ears of fresh corn
- 1 ¼ cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 4 large eggs
- 1 lb. spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 6 cups loosely packed arugula
- 1 tsp. chili flakes (optional)
- Freshly ground Black Pepper
For the breadcrumbs:
- 1/2 cup panko
- 1 ½ tsp. smoked paprika (we used spicy, but sweet would work
- 1 ½ tsp. extra virgin olive oil
Heat your grill on high. Add the corn, still in the husks, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning every so often, until they are charred on all sides. Let cool, cut the corn off of the cobs, and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the panko, paprika, and olive oil and spread out on a sheet pan. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are lightly golden brown. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, eggs, and some freshly ground black pepper. Meanwhile, start cooking the spaghetti.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the corn, arugula, and chili flakes (if you want the dish a little spicy). Cook until the arugula is just barely wilted and the corn is heated through.
When the pasta is cooked to just al dente, set aside about a quarter cup of the cooking water and drain. Add the pasta and reserved cooking water to the skillet with the corn and the arugula, turn off the heat, and toss to combine. Immediately add the spaghetti mixture to the large bowl with the eggs and cheese. Toss until thoroughly mixed. The eggs should slightly thicken without curdling, and lightly coat the pasta. Season with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately. Serve each plate with a sprinkling of the breadcrumbs and additional Parmesan.