My daughter and grandson arrived shortly after six. First course included nuts, cheeses, crackers, blue corn chips and salsa–I know, not Italian. For the adults, Stella Rosa Black from Italy. For the non-adults organic apple juice.
While we snacked on the first course, we created two versions of Pasta alla Carbonara, one for my vegetarian grandson and one without much parmesan cheese for everyone else. Traditionally, this dish requires parmesan cheese; however, my daughter is lactose intolerant so we created the other one for her. The rest of us just topped off our dish with grated parmesan at the dinner table.
We used conchiglie from Monastero di Montebello in Italy for the pasta and for version two, pancetta cut into cubes. For the vegetarian version we used Morning Star bacon. Here is the basic recipe for pasta alla carbonara:
bacon or ham, cut in cubes or small pieces
whipped eggs, approximately one egg for every two people
finely chopped onions sautéed in olive oil–we used one large onion for four
grated parmesan cheese–1/8 to 1/4 cup per person (you can use half parmesan and half pecorino)
Saute onions until translucent. If you are using any bacon except pancetta, cook it first but not until too crispy. Add the bacon and heat through. Add the cooked pasta and the whipped egg/cheese to the onion/bacon mixture. Continually stir until thoroughly combined and the eggs are cooked.
When to start cooking the pasta so it is cooked and ready to combine with the other ingredients depends on the type of pasta you use.
We served this with a large salad: leaf lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, chopped red bell peppers, onions, chopped carrots, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. We concluded the evening with three different ice cream choices for dessert.
In case you are wondering why the Christmas tree is still there, well, Martina and I like the lights so we keep procrastinating taking it down. I keep telling myself today it will be dismantled and then it is not. Tonight it will come down–maybe.