Pasta, Pizza, Risotto

Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini

Nicoletta February 21, 2018

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Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini, a vegetarian take on the classic Roman Carbonara for a light and flavorful recipe that can be used for those Fridays during Lent.

Song of the day: Sowing The Seeds Of Love – Tears For Fears.

Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini-closeup

Carnival and its indulgences have ended and Lent has begun. As a tradition, in many observant Christian households, every Friday during Lent up until Easter Sunday, the families abstain from eating meat, although fish is allowed.

 

 

I am going to be in Rome until past Easter and since my family here is very observant, I thought I would share every week a meatless recipe that I prepared at their place. Not that you see a lot of meat dishes published on our blog, anyway. Other than me being vegetarian/pescetarian, Loreto has reduced his meat consumption significantly, and my Italian family has never been a “meat lover”. I thought that even those not interested in Lent and the period of “abstinence” from meat, they can still appreciate all the benefits of a varied diet that includes more vegetarian and fish dishes.

The recipe I am sharing with you today is a take on a Roman classic pasta dish: a Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini. The beauty of this recipe is that you can adapt it with seasonal vegetables. Imagine this wonderful dish with artichokes, eggplant, pepper, or a mix of summer veggies. Tasty and healthy.

Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini-prep

The concept is very much the same as a classic Carbonara with eggs, black pepper, Parmigiano/Pecorino. The zucchini replaces the guanciale (cured pork cheek) and they are cooked in e.v.o. oil with a clove of garlic and some herbs to infuse them with more flavors.

Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini-more prep

The preparation is exactly like a classic Carbonara, easy and quick, where particular attention must be given to adding the egg/Parmigiano/Pecorino mixture to the pot of zucchini and pasta, avoiding to turn it to scrambled eggs. The use of pasta water -that you need to reserve while draining the pasta-, plays an important role in tempering the eggs and creating the desired creaminess.

Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini-in the pan

The end result is a Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini that is light, flavorful, and nutritious. The zucchini add a sweeter, more delicate note, that is well balanced by the pungent cheese and black pepper. Forkful after forkful of intense delight! If you are looking to have an Italian night and want something special yet simple, then try this recipe it will surprise you in its flavor and texture!

 

NOTES:

  • As you saw in the picture, I used a different variety of zucchini called “zucchine romanesche” (remember, in Italian ch=k), that are the typical zucchini you can find in Rome and the Region all year round (but of course in the summer they are at their best). Often, they are sold with the flower still attached and that is an indication of their extreme freshness. Their light green color with pale green flecks and prominent ribs is their main peculiarity. They are sweeter, with a more delicate flavor, a tougher skin, and a less watery/seedy texture than their dark green -and bigger- counterparts. If you can find them, you might want to give them a try, if not, local zucchini work just as well.
  • Since it is a Roman dish, you can find the optional addition of a particular type of mint, called “mentuccia” (or nepetella). It is an herb that in Rome you will find accompanying many typical dishes, (including artichokes, stay tuned for a recipe), and that has a milder fragrance and flavor compared to regular mint, and a different look: the mint has rounded flowers, while the mentuccia produces tubular inflorescences that rise vertically. If you want to add regular mint, I’d suggest just a tiny bit, not to overpower the dish. You could replace it with a pinch of oregano, or basil, or none.

Song of the day: Sowing The Seeds Of Love – Tears For Fears.

Enjoy!

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Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini-closeup

Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini

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  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Pasta, Vegetarian
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini, a vegetarian take on the classic Roman Carbonara for a light and flavorful recipe that can be used for those Fridays during Lent.


Ingredients

  • 300-350 g zucchini
  • 3-4 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
  • 1 clove garlic, lightly smashed
  • pinch of dried (or fresh if you have) “mentuccia“, a type of mint (optional)
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 30 g grated Parmigiano (or Pecorino for a bolder flavor)
  • pepper
  • salt
  • 300 g spaghetti
  • additional Parmigiano and black pepper for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash and cut the zucchini into cubes (or matchsticks, if you prefer).
  2. In a saute pan, add 3-4 tablespoons of oil and the lightly smashed garlic. Let the garlic become a little golden, then add the chopped zucchini.
  3. Halfway through cooking add salt and mint (if using), and cook for about 10 minutes over low heat. Remove the garlic.
  4. In a bowl, break the eggs and add the Parmigiano (or Pecorino), salt, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Beat the egg mixture vigorously and set aside.
  5. Cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted water and drain when al dente, leaving some of the pasta water aside.
  6. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauteed zucchini and add the egg mixture. Mix on the lowest heat possible just until you get a creamy consistency (don’t overcook or you’ll have scrambled eggs). Add pasta water if needed.
  7. Serve warm with additional Parmigiano (or Pecorino) or black pepper (optional).

Notes

The cooking time does not include the cooking of the pasta (which could be also done while cooking the zucchini).

Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini-from the top

Post e Ricetta in Italiano

Carnevale è finito e con lui tutti –o quasi- i suoi eccessi, ed è iniziata la Quaresima che durerà fino a Pasqua. In Italia, è tradizione di chi osserva i precetti Pasquali che tutti i Venerdì di Quaresima ci si astenga dal mangiare carne, ma si può comunque mangiare pesce.

Io sarò a Roma fino a dopo Pasqua, a casa dei miei genitori che sono molto osservanti, quindi ho pensato di presentarvi una ricetta di Quaresima a settimana, senza carne, che ho preparato a casa loro, nonostante sul blog non è che abbiamo moltissime ricette “carnivore”. Anche chi non è interessato alla Quaresima e al periodo di “astinenza” dalla carne prima della Pasqua, può comunque apprezzare tutti i benefici di una dieta varia che includa piatti vegetariani e di pesce.

La ricetta di oggi è un adattamento della classica Carbonara, ma resa vegetariana dall’utilizzo delle zucchine al posto del guanciale. E’ una ricetta semplice, genuina, e gustosa!

Il procedimento è lo stesso di una regolare Carbonara, che vede particolare attenzione a quando si aggiunge il composto uova/Parmigiano/Pecorino e pepe nero alla pasta ed alle zucchine che sono già in padella. L’attenzione è rivolta a non far di quelle uova una frittatina ma lasciandole cremose, con l’aiuto dell’acqua di cottura della pasta e ad un uso leggerissino del calore dei fuochi.

Il risultato è una Carbonara Vegetariana di Zucchine leggera, con buoni apporti nutrizionali e molto saporita. La dolcezza delle zucchine viene bilanciata bene dal Pecorino Romano (o Parmigiano) e dall’abbondante macinata di pepe nero.

NOTE: Visto che sono a Roma, e comunque la Carbonara è un piatto Romano, le zucchine da me usate sono quelle “romanesche”, più piccole, dolci, sode, e meno acquose delle altre specie. Come aggiunta –facoltativa- al sapore da dare alle zucchine, la mentuccia, sempre perché nella cucina Romana si usa molto e si sposa bene con il gusto complessivo.

Buon Appetito!

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Vegetarian Carbonara with Zucchini-closeup

Carbonara Vegetariana di Zucchine

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  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Yield: 4 persone
  • Category: Pasta
  • Cuisine: Italiana

Ingredients

  • 300-350 g zucchine (io romanesche)
  • 3-4 cucchiai oilo e.v.o.
  • 1 spicchio d’aglio, leggermente schiacciato
  • 1 pizzico di menta secca (o fresca se l’avete), facoltativo
  • 2 uova + 1 tuorlo
  • 30 g Parmigiano o Pecorino grattuggiato
  • pepe nero macinato fresco
  • sale
  • 300 g spaghetti
  • Parmigiano e pepe nero, da aggiungere sul piatto

Instructions

  1. Lavare e tagliare le zucchine a cubetti (o fiammiferi, se si preferisce).
  2. In una padella soffriggere, aggiungere 3-4 cucchiai di olio e l’aglio leggermente schiacciato. Lasciare che l’aglio diventi un po’ dorato, quindi aggiungere le zucchine.
  3. A metà cottura aggiungere sale e menta (se la mettete) e cuocere per circa 10 minuti a fuoco basso. Rimuovere l’aglio.
  4. In una ciotola, rompere le uova e aggiungere il parmigiano (o pecorino), sale e abbondante pepe nero macinato fresco. Sbattere vigorosamente e mettere da parte.
  5. Cuocere gli spaghetti in abbondante acqua salata e scolarli al dente, lasciando da parte un po’ dell’acqua della pasta.
  6. Aggiungere la pasta nella padella con le zucchine saltate e aggiungere il composto di uova.
  7. Mescolare a fuoco bassissimo, aggiundo un mestolo di acqua della pasta fino ad ottenere una consistenza cremosa (non cuocere troppo o avrete uova strapazzate).
  8. Servire subito con parmigiano (o pecorino) e pepe nero (opzionale).

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10 Comments

  • Reply Dawn @ Girl Heart Food February 21, 2018 at 10:45 am

    This looks UNBELIVABLY good right now!! I just want to jump through my screen and into that plate! Love that you used zucchini instead of the pork! Definitely adding this to the menu. This, crusty bread and some vino on Friday night and I’m set! I know hubby would really enjoy it too 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 21, 2018 at 11:54 am

      Thank you, Dawn! It’s a nice alternative to the classic Carbonara. Your plans sound good to me 🙂 !

  • Reply thesweetworldsite February 21, 2018 at 11:03 am

    I love pasta! This dish looks so delicious! Thanks for sharing! I just baked a lemon and cake and it was a great, refreshing recipe. You can check it out here 🙂
    https://thesweetworldsite.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/lemon-cake/

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 21, 2018 at 11:54 am

      Thank you for commenting!

  • Reply Denise from Urb'n'Spice February 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    I could ditto Dawn’s comments completely – my first impression of your post was that I need to make this dish now! I remember “Fish Friday” as a child during Lent – I would have loved this dish! I am looking forward to trying it, Nicoletta – it looks perfect! I can see a little lemon zest on top and I love the idea of basil, too.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 21, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Yes! I think the addition of lemon zest is a great touch to bring some freshness and zestiness! Thank you so much for your comment.

  • Reply Eileen Kelly February 22, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    I love this recipe for carbonara and the addition of the zucchini is perfect!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 23, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Thank you, Kelly! It is a really easy, simple, and so tasty vegetarian recipe!

  • Reply jenny June 7, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    Love this recipe and the use of zucchini

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta June 8, 2018 at 10:39 am

      Thank you! Simple and delicious 🙂 .

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