Steve and I have never been good about making time to hire a babysitter and go out together. We don't really know anyone who babysits around these parts either, so that doesn't help. We both like to cook though, so recently we've taken to making some mac & cheese, getting a Redbox, and banishing the children in the family room so that we can have 1.5-2 hours of kid-free time to cook and have a meal together (the kind of meal that the children would most likely gag and make faces at). I'm on a personal mission to make sure we do this once a week. It will become especially important when Steve heads back to work in a couple of weeks, and the stress level around here goes from zero to about 250. Not exactly looking forward to that. But, I digress...
I think I've mentioned before that I love the magazine Everyday Food. I look forward to receiving my subscription every month, and I always end up making something from every issue. For last week's date night, I made Pasta Carbonara with Leeks & Lemon. Below is my own adaptation of the recipe - - I made a couple of changes to suit our tastes. You can find the original recipe in the November 2011 issue, on page 16.
Pasta Carbonara with Leeks & Lemons
10 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced crosswise in 1-inch pieces
2 large leeks (white and light green part only), halved lengthwise and sliced thin **
3/4 lb. short pasta, such as orecchiette or fusilli
2 large, fresh eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (plus more for serving)
1/2 - 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest, depending on taste. I used 1 Tbsp. and liked the flavor; Steve could have done with less lemon.
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
** Leeks can be a pain to clean. Dirt likes to hide between the layers. If you cut them crosswise, then hold on to one end firmly, you can separate the layers under running water and wash away all the grit. You can also Google "cleaning leeks" and find all kinds of different ways to clean them without a lot of effort.
Set a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel. Remove all but 2 Tbsp. of the bacon grease from the pan, and add the leeks. Season with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring often, until leeks are beginning to brown, approximately 10 minutes.
Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, whisk the eggs together in a bowl. Whisk in the Parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Remove 1/4 cup of the boiling pasta water, and whisk it into the egg mixture.
Drain the cooked pasta, and immediately add to the egg mixture, along with the bacon, leeks, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Tastes even better the second day!