Mini-me Meal…Pasta carbonara

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This adaption of pasta carbonara is fantastic for the whole family. It’s super quick and easy to make and thus far has been a hit every time with Little Miss Fusspot. I make a few tweaks for the adult version to make it a bit more…err…sophisticated, but largely it’s the same meal. Choose whatever pasta your little one likes the most (in Thea’s case, elbow pasta or ‘chiferri’) and go a bit more traditional for the grown-ups version. Spaghetti is the usual choice but I prefer vermicelli as it has a lightness to it which works well with the richness of the sauce.

The sauce is a simple combination of cream, an egg yolk, parmesan and black pepper. If you don’t have any cream on hand you can use good quality olive oil instead and still achieve a delicious end result. Double the sauce quantities in the recipe below to feed four adults.

Thea is very fussy about courgette. She won’t eat it unless it’s well hidden from her all-seeing eagle eye. I choose to grate it on the finest setting so she has no chance of picking it out of the dish.

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For the adult version I slice the courgette lengthwise, then each length gets sliced diagonally, approximately 5mm thick. The other tweaks I make are to add the rind of a lemon to the pan along with the courgette and when you give the pasta a final toss add a tablespoon of toasted pinenuts and a handful of fresh rocket leaves.

Of course, for the purists out there I’ve completely butchered the traditional carbonara but as per usual I think I’ve done it a world of favours.

PASTA CARBONARA (serves two little people)
80g pasta – chiferri or vermicelli
1 tbsp finely grated parmesan
1 egg yolk
25ml cream (or 1 tbsp good quality olive oil)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 slices bacon – rind/fat removed and sliced into thin strips
1 small courgette – finely grated
olive oil for frying

METHOD
1. Combine the parmesan, egg yolk, cream and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl, whisk and set aside.

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2. Add a generous pinch of sea salt to a saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to packet directions.
3. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the bacon strips and cook until golden and crispy.

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4. Add the grated courgette to the pan and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

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5. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking liquid as you do this. Tip the pasta into the pan along with the bacon and courgette, toss to coat the pasta and immediately remove from the heat.
6. Add the sauce to the pan along with 1-2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid and toss well. Don’t return the pan to the heat or you will scramble the egg. The idea is that the residual heat from the pasta/bacon mix will sufficiently cook the sauce without scrambling it.

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