Rob has been working so hard at his new job that Violet and I (mostly I) decided to make him something we've been promising for a while. He's such a good sport about not eating meat at home that one of my favourite things to do is cook him meaty favourites- with Quorn instead. Most of the time it's a dish that he hasn't had in a long time as he can't eat onion so he's really happy with our compromise.
Quorn and Facon Spaghetti Carbonara
You will need:
2 x cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 x cup of mushrooms (sliced)
1 x cup of heavy whipping cream
3/4 x cup of parmesan cheese (grated)
8oz of thin dried spaghetti
4 x facon rashers (thinly sliced)
250g of Quorn pieces
I like to prepare all my ingredients before getting started, as the picture above shows. It means less mess because you're not rushing to chop/grate/slice at the same time as stir/boil/fry and it's just plain easier.Duh. I'm also a bit of a nut about finely chopped garlic.
You could go finer than this. You could also go way less fine if you aren't obsessed. So once all the prep (read: boring stuff) is out of the way it's time to put a medium sized pot with water in it (essential, DO NOT FORGET THE WATER!) on to boil. At the same time you can be frying up the facon pieces in just a little olive oil. I put a tablespoon in last night because I am an idiot. I then had to try to drain it out with a flat stirrer because our pots are non-stick so I couldn't use a regular metal spoon. That was fun. Anywho, when the facon is nearly crispy you can add the garlic and give that a little fry too. Not too much though because you'll have to come back to it with the Quorn and mushrooms.
Now take the fry pan off the heat. Add the pasta to the water along with a fair amount of salt. Salt not only helps the pasta stop sticking to each other but it will also flavour the pasta. This is very important because in a meaty carbonara I imagine the bacon would bring salt to the sauce..facon just ain't that salty. Give it a little stir with a fork and then set a timer for 2 minutes SHORTER than the recommended cooking time. This is because you will be cooking it a little in the sauce later and pasta tastes like glue if it's over cooked.
Next up, put the facon and garlic back onto the heat and throw in the Quorn pieces. They're probably still frozen if you forgot to take them out of the freezer in due time, like I did. This is ok! Let them fry up in there on low-medium heat for a few minutes. Keep an eye on the facon and garlic and turn down the heat if they look like they're heading towards burned, the Quorn can still be a little frozen when the sauce goes in if need be.
Now, while you're waiting (and stirring occasionally) you can mix together the cream and parmesan cheese. Usually I think carbonara recipes call for egg yolks here too but I think that's a bit creepy, don't ask me why, I didn't add them anyway. You can if you like, probably 2 would suffice.
Time to go back and add the mushrooms to the Quorn mix in the fry pan. Your pasta should be very nearly done by now!
When the timer goes off turn the heat off the pasta, turn the heat on the fry pan right down to the lowest setting (if you haven't already) and grab a pair of tongs or a pasta scooper thingy. DON'T DRAIN THE PASTA. This is really really important, you need the starch from the little bit of water you'll bring across when you scoop/tong the pasta out of the water and into the pan. It'll be all drippy into the pan and that water will help the sauce thicken up quicker. Oh yeah. So do that, then add the cream and cheese mix straight away. Stir it all around and turn the heat up to the lower side of medium. Stir occasionally until it's thickened. At this point you could add chopped parsley if it's your thing (it's not ours) and also some salt to taste. In the interest of full disclosure I also added another slosh of cream and sprinkling of parmesan here because I wanted to stretch it to have enough for Rob's work lunch the next day.
Look, it's not the best picture but how often do you get meatless chicken and bacon carbonara? We added lots of cracked pepper and served it with pineapple soda because we are reckless daredevils.
On a side note: What the dickens Spring? I thought we were pals??