Spaghetti carbonara must be one of the most popular kids’ dishes of all time. No wonder; it’s plain and creamy with lots of spaghetti and crispy chunks of something salty-sweet. In our version, we use small chunks of parsnip that crisp up just like pancetta, and we mix spiralised courgettes into the spaghetti to amp up the vegetable content, but still with a similar flavour and texture to the original.
Courgette Carbonara with “Parsnip Pancetta”
Active preparation: 25 minutes
Start to finish: 25 minutes
200g wholegrain spaghetti
2 parsnips, tops removed and peeled
4 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 courgette, topped and tailed
100g sour cream
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
2 tsp lemon zest
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add a generous sprinkle of salt, followed by the spaghetti and cook according to the packet instructions.
While the spaghetti is cooking, cut the parsnips into small batons. Heat half of the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the parsnips and onion with a pinch of salt over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic to the pan along with the remaining oil and sauté for a further 5 minutes, or until the onion has caramelised and the parsnips are golden and crispy.
While the vegetables are cooking, spiralise the courgette and set aside.
Put the sour cream, egg yolks, Parmesan and lemon zest in a medium-sized bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, whisk together and set aside.
When the spaghetti is al dente, remove from the heat and drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the frying pan along with a splash of the cooking water, the sour cream mixture and the courgettes and quickly but gently toss together. The heat from the spaghetti will delicately cook the yolks just enough to thicken into a smooth and silky sauce and not scramble. You may need to add more of the cooking water to loosen the sauce slightly.
Serve straight away topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan, a drizzle of oil and a sprig of parsley, if you like.
Adult upgrade: Amp up the freshly ground black pepper, stir through chopped parsley and serve alongside a hefty amount of salad greens.
A helping hand: Spiralising the courgettes is a fun process that the kids will love to be in charge of.
Extracted from Little Green Kitchen by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl (Hardie Grant, approx €23). Photography © David Frenkiel.