One gorgeous summer evening, gloriously sunny in my little urban garden, I gazed out my window and thought, what can I cook that will be bright, cheerful, quick, colourful and tasty? A quick perusal of the fridge contents revealed broad beans, some prosciutto, a little cream and pecorino, and some parsley. The scene was set. I was going to make a twist on carbonara.
Broad beans and ham are such a gorgeous combination. Opposites attract, early season tender sweet broad beans meet the robust boldness of a cured prosciutto. It’s a cliche but it is a match made in heaven.
Carbonara is one of those gorgeous comforting dishes. Traditionalists and purists say DON’T TOUCH. But I do, I can’t help it. It’s one of those dishes that lends itself to lovely interpretations, and so quickly. I’ve made carbonara’s with many different ingredients, chorizo & kale was a lovely one, and now with broad beans and prosciutto.
Isn’t it difficult?
No. The dish (according to Marcella Hazan), was born in Rome during world war deprivation, when American GI’s had eggs and ham and little else. So, they asked the locals to make them a dish, and carbonara was born. Purists (and I am generally one), don’t add cream to their carbonara, the sauce gets it unctous creaminess from egg yolks, and egg yolks alone. Parmesan and pecorino romano add depth of flavour, saltiness and some texture, and should it require it, some water from the just cooked linguine pot will add moisture. Parsley adds colour and flavour, and some garlic, fried in the olive oil and removed when brown, adds a subtle garlicky undertone, which caresses each bite.
How did I make it? Recipe below, but I did add cream, as sometimes you just must. The luxury it confers is delicious. I’ve written the recipe per person. I always cook for two, as I am generally just feeding myself, and I like my leftovers for lunch. This actually reheats nicely, it’s a different dish, but I love fried spaghetti the next day, and the eggy sauce almost scrambles. It sounds wrong, but it tastes very right.
Ingredients (per person):
2 slices of prosciutto, torn into strips
250g broad beans (weighed in the pod)
1 clove of garlic
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cream
1 tbsp pecorino
1 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Some grated fresh parmesan or pecorino, and some chopped flat leaf parsley, to serve
Olive oil for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Double pod the broad beans, remove the outer green pod, then the little white casing around each one. Trust me, it’s worth it. The delicate sweetness of the broad bean lies within. Cook for a couple of minutes in boiling water until tender. Refresh in iced water to arrest the cooking process, and preserve that bright green colour.
Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions.
Add the cream, pecorino and parsley to the egg yolk and whisk until combined. Season. Leave to the side in a bowl big enough to hold the pasta.
Heat some olive oil and fry the garlic until brown on both sides. Discard.
When the pasta is almost done, add the broad beans to the oil, and heat through.
When cooked, drain the pasta reserving some of the cooking water.
Add the pasta to the egg yolk mixture. Toss so all of it is coated. Add a little pasta water if it’s dry.
Add the broad beans and prosciutto and toss. Season to taste.
Serve immediately with some parmesan/pecorino and flat leaf parsley as a garnish.