Sunday, March 18, 2012

Carbonara-Style Fettuccine with Grilled Asparagus and Lemon-Herb Breadcrumbs

Don't you love Springtime?? As least when it looks like spring outside... we had a period of lovely weather that made me get spring fever and then we woke up to snow this morning! Ugh! But spring does officially start this Wednesday, the 21st! Woo hoo! I love the fresh fruit and vegetables that become available in Spring... like strawberries, blackberries, but most of all Asparagus!! I  LOVE Asparagus! I remember in the good old days when I was young, going Asparagus hunting along the ditch banks (yes, I'm a country girl) we would get tons of Asparagus for free! Now you can't find it there least when I've looked, either someone beats me to it or it could be that most of the ditch banks have disappeared due to the fact they have invented sprinkler pipes and water pumps.... I hate spending more that $2 a pound for it, so I LOVE it when it becomes available in the markets for under that. I watched Rachel Ray the other day on Saturday morning and she made this recipe (you can find the original recipe here )and knew I just had to give it shot! It was really good! I made mine with cooked bacon because I couldn't find pancetta in the stores I have available, plus I had some on hand that I needed to use up. I also added a little diced onion instead of chives... because that's what I hand as well. I certainly wasn't disappointed! This was delicious! I served mine with meatballs on the side! Enjoy!!

Carbonara-Style Fettuccine  with Grilled Asparagus and Lemon-Herb Breadcrumbs
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray
Serves: 4 servings.

1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed
4 tablespoons Olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons butter
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used 1/2 cup Panko Crumbs and 1/2 cup regular breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used 1 Tablespoon dried, because that is what I had)
6 slices pepper bacon, sliced into bite size pieces
1/2 cup finely diced onion
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 egg yolks
1 pound Fettuccine (I used a little over half of a 1 pound package because I'm cooking for 2, use the whole pound if you need more servings)
1 cup grated Romano Cheese (you could use grated Parmesan too if that's what you have)
 Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly drizzle the asparagus with olive oil, then grill until charred, evenly marked and tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Cut into 1-inch pieces on an angle, or thinly slice if the asparagus is thick.  OR you can do like I did, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees, and spread my asparagus in a single layer on a large cookie sheet that I had lightly sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray, I drizzled the asparagus with Olive oil, and then baked for 8 to 10 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

Heat 1 tablespoon Olive Oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter into the oil; when it foams, stir in the lemon zest, then add the breadcrumbs and stir until moistened. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the breadcrumbs are deep golden. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until the bacon is crispy tender (drain some of the bacon fat if there's a lot, leave about 1 Tablespoon in the skillet) Add the diced onion and cook for another 3 minutes; then add the garlic and stir for 1 to 2 more minutes, then add the chicken broth  and reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes., then turn to low.

Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small bowl.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water just before draining the pasta, and beat it into the egg yolks to temper them.
To temper the egg yolks add the pasta water a little at a time while whisking briskly (this will keep them from turning into scrambled eggs when you add to the pasta mixture)
Add the asparagus to the bacon mixture and heat through.
Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the asparagus and bacon. Pour the egg mixture over the top, turn off the heat and toss for 1 minute (I actually left my heat on medium low and cooked for 1 to 2 minutes to kind of thicken the sauce mixture) adding the cheese in the last few seconds. Taste and add a little Salt and pepper if necessary.
Divide the pasta among shallow bowls and top with lots of the lemon-herb breadcrumbs.  Enjoy!!

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