Cooking, Italian
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Courgette Carbonara

I have been living in London for some time now – 6 years – and have noticed that my hiberno-english lilt has absorbed some new words and phrases, I recently caught myself saying mate and as though to make room I am losing the frequency of some old regulars e.g. I am saying grand alot less. It’s all part of adapting, people still don’t understand what I am saying at times, although that may have alot to do with my rush to say everything especially when I am enthusiastic about the topic. What I never expected was that someday, out of the blue, I would call a courgette a zucchini. Where did that come from? I live in England, I am from Ireland, it’s a courgette in both places! I blame cookbooks and American televison shows, it’s as though, through some process of verbal osmosis, the external zucchini influences overpowered the courgette ones and forced itself out one evening unexpectedly. I am now making a very conscious effort to say courgette, which may sound very silly, I suppose it is, but I feel mixed up enough as it is so I am sticking with it!

So, recently, following the purchase of some very pretty yellow baby courgettes and some courgette flowers I decided that I would make a zucchini courgette carbonara and stuff the flowers with goats cheese and courgette and deep fry them. it took me ages to find courgette flowers, the farmers markets don’t appear to be selling them attached to the courgettes anymore which is an awful shame and when I did find them they cost £1 for 3 flowers on their own. That seems a bit steep! A couple of days after this purchase as I was preparing to cook them, Jamie Oliver did something very similar on his new show, Jamie at Home. I was really annoyed as I thought, damn, everyone is going to think I am copying him. So as a preface, I’ll explain how I first came across the carbonara recipe, it’s a nice trip down memory lane for me anyway. I’ll blog the courgette flower recipe another time.

My first encounter with homemade courgette carbonara was in Naples many years ago at a friends then boyfriends-ex-girlfriends house (you following?!). I was an impressionable 21/22 then and was really excited at seeing how easily and brilliantly it came together. It was a great night, we were drinking wine from their Tuscan vineyard with this delicious pasta and to top it off (I think) we were driven home in Isabella’s blue Fiat 500. It’s at times like this that I wish I had kept a diary. It’s all quite vague! That may have alot to do with the Tuscan wine.

The pasta that night was different to the one I am blogging here as it also had cherry tomatoes in. This may have been in place of the usual pancetta as two of us were vegetarian, this works really well if you want to try it sometime. This time I only used courgettes and pancetta as the courgettes were so flavoursome I wanted the dish to be all about them.

This is very quick, the carbonara takes only as long as the pasta takes to cook.

Ingredients (for two generous portions):

200g tagliatelle
300g zucchini courgettes, quartered lengthways and sliced
5 slices pancetta, cut into lardons
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 free range (preferably organic) egg yolks
25g pecorino sardo, finely grated (or parmesan if you can’t get it) plus a little extra to serve.


Cook the tagliatelle according to packet instructions in salted water.
Once that’s started, fry the pancetta on a high heat in a frying pan until crispy.
Add the courgettes and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft.
Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.
The tagliatelle should be ready by now, when it is add the drained pasta to the pan.
Let it cool for a couple of minutes and add the egg yolks and cheese and toss to mix. The egg yolks will cook slightly on the hot pasta but will retain a creamy texture. Be sure to allow the pasta to cool down just a little, otherwise, the egg yolks will scramble.
Season with S&P & serve with some grated pecorino sardo.




  1. shelley says

    wow i should keep a diary too, had totally forgotten about that night! nice trip down memory lane for me too!

  2. Thanks Su-Lin & Annemarie. I actually prefer courgette carbonara to the regular pancetta one.

    Shelley – I know! What a fantastic time that was, wandering around the mediteranean. That night stands out as one of my favourites, along with the fragola wine in the underground wine bar, amazing neapolitan buffalo mozarella, Andrea’s dad’s homemade pumpkin gnocchi, droool… We should go back to Italy sometime.

  3. andrea says

    And your wish is like an order for me!… Gal!
    nice website. I believe i am going to make some of your recipes. You should write a book. you Irish are by now cooking better of the italian: sane, full, filling portions of pasta whilst the italians now serve tiny, microscopic portions ….. “nouvelle – IT-IS-ONLY-A-TASTE
    DO-NOT-LICK-THE-PLATE-STOP-PLEASE-STOP- cuisine” . come to visit in bruseels.

  4. Andrea! Hello! So good to hear from you. I would love to visit. I am off to Paris this weekend for a music festival on the eurostar, next trip we’ll see you and your little ones, I hope. Hope you are all well! I will drop you a proper email.

    Lol – re: the irish being better, that’s not what you said when you lived in Ireland. Do you remember the day the only pasta we could find was that Roma stuff? “Roma! Roma Pasta! What do the Irish know about making pasta!”. That still makes me laugh.

    Do you still have a Cork accent? :D


  5. Sarah says

    Ahhh! It was that trip to Australia in 2006 that did you in – they are Zucchini not Courgettes! Go with the italian’s, australian’s and americans! This recipe looks beautiful, (I especially love your photos!) I’ll try it out on the weekend. What’s this about eating meat?! Are you reformed?

  6. This looks delicious. I have some pattypan squash that need using up – perhaps I will do something like this with them.

  7. Lol, prehaps Sarah. Zucchini frucchini. Cultural non-identity. I wouldn’t say reformed but, yes, after 11 long years I am once more omnivorou. You can blame Kat’s thanksgiving dinner last year :)

    Jenn, thanks, I will check your recipe out.

    Katie, let me know how it goes. Squash is so flexible and delicious with pasta.

  8. Pingback: My Veg Plot » Courgette to go

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