Monday, October 13, 2014

Sometimes You Want Pasta but You Also Want Your Pants to Fit Over Your Ass

Since Summer is officially over and we're well into fall, I'm pretty excited for the couch/my ass reunion of 2014.

It's going to be amazing.

You never really fully appreciate your couch and a classy pair of sweatpants until you're forced (#firstworldproblems) into running around and being busy all the time.

When you can just wake up and sit on your couch with a cup of coffee and a good book, there isn't anything better.

Anywho, I've said it before, and I'll say it again but one of my favorite things to do is to take a dish and put a pin on it to fit dietetic needs.  I love the challenge of trying to make a traditional or classic dish and turn it into something that tastes almost identical to its classic counterpart.

So sometimes you're asked to make food without any dairy.

And sometimes you decide to take on an Italian dish that is so dairy-rich and delicious, that a normal person would call you crazy and cause Italian grandmothers to roll over in their graves.

Enter Pasta Carbonara.

Traditionally, Pasta Carbonara is made with a Jesus-arm full of butter, a bucket of cream, and a pile of cheese.

Not this recipe.

This shit is delicious.

Dairy-Free Pasta Carbonara
Sure it still has enough bacon to make any hearty American salute a flag, but it also has whole wheat pasta and peas.  So um... that means it is healthy, right?   *cough* Right, guys?

If you're looking to lighten the recipe a bit, you can nix the regular bacon and cook up Turkey Bacon or some Morning Star Veggie-Strips instead.  Also feel free to skip cooking your onion in the bacon grease. Cut some of the grease by using a bit of olive or grapeseed oil instead.

1 pound, thick cut bacon  (save that grease!  You'll need it)
1 small yellow onion, small dice
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup green peas
3 eggs
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1/3 c. Almond milk (feel free to skip the Almond Milk if you want to use regular)
12 oz. whole wheat linguine (if you're not a big fan of whole wheat noodles, that's ok - use whatever type you prefer.  Save that pasta water, too!)

1. Cook your pasta according to package directions in salted, boiling water.  While your pasta is cooking, start on the sauce!

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Cut your bacon into small strips, about 1/3 - 1/2 inch wide. And cook, until crispy.   Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel.

3. Remove the grease from your skillet (Since I don't keep a grease jar in my kitchen, I line a small glass bowl with aluminum foil and pour the grease in there.  Once the grease has 'firmed up' and cooled off, I can toss the foil-grease-packet in the trash).

4. Reduce the heat on your skillet to medium and add back 1 to 2 T. of the reserved bacon grease into your pan (you want some grease.... not a swimming pool).   Add in your onion and garlic and saute until tender and translucent.

5. Once the garlic and onions are cooked, remove and place to drain on a paper towel.

6. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, almond milk, salt and pepper, until smooth.

7. When pasta is done, drain and reserve 2 cups of the pasta water.

8. Add pasta to a large bowl.  While the pasta is still hot, slowly pour in half of your egg mixture, tossing to combine.

9. Add in cooked bacon, onions, garlic and peas.  Toss to combine and add remaining egg mixture. Toss again.

10.  If you notice that your pasta seems a bit "gloopy", add in a little bit of reserved pasta water and toss to combine until desired consistency.  It's not the prettiest meal in my repertiore; however, you can brighten it up with a chiffonade of basil, a bit of grated Parmesan cheese or whatever else makes you happy.

I'm going to make this a full-on noodle blog entry. Why not? Let's get crazy.

Chris and I have a back and forth where I ask him what he wants me to make for dinner or I ask if he has any requests and his answer is almost always "whatever you want to make is fine".

This is frustrating for two reasons: I'm probably one of the most indecisive people on the planet, and I really like the challenge of making something amazing from someone's request.  Especially if the requester has dietary restrictions (I think I'm just repeating myself right now. I need more coffee)

So a little while ago, completely out of the blue, Chris turns to me and says, "you know what I want? I want your take on Ramen."


Oh that's perfect!

So naturally I scoured the Google machine to find a few recipes and come up with my own meshed recipe.  And chances are, I'm going to commit some sacrilegious Ramen-crime that should get me locked up in food-jail forever.


First thing's first, shall we?  A little education.

Besides being the $.69 packets of noodles with higher than salt-lick sodium levels college students across America clamor to when on a budget, Ramen is acually - quite simply - a Japanese noodle soup dish consisting of Chinese-style wheat noodles (this differs depending on what region you are in or even which vendor you are eating noodles from) in a meat broth and flavored with soy or miso with toppings like pork, dried seaweed, green onions, pickled ginger, etc.

Chicken Ramen
Most of the time when people think of Ramen, they think of inexpensive bowl of soup, although since we're friends, I'm going to share with you a deep, dark secret.  I have been known to just eat dried packs of the noodles.  Or only cook them for a minute so they're still crunchy.  Gross?  Yeah. Well.   I'm a weirdo. We already established that.

I decided to make chicken ramen because that's what Chris asked for.  If you'd like, get crazy and use pork or beef.

This makes 4 good-sized bowls.  Delish!

2 - 3 pounds chicken thighs
2" knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 T. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. chili bean or thai chili paste
1 T. Sesame Oil (and more for garnish, if you'd like)
1 T. sake (optional)
8 cups (64 oz.) chicken broth
1. package, ramen noodles (I used Udon because I couldn't find any proper noodles at the grocery store)

Some Ideas for Garnish/toppings:
1 leek (whites and greens) rough chop
scallions, rough chopped
Bean Spouts
Carrots, thinly sliced
4 soft boiled eggs (halved and marinated in a soy-sauce mixture for at least 1 day.  Recipe here. They're amazing!)
Dried sea weed
Crimini Mushrooms

1. Mince the garlic, ginger and shallot.

2. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 T. Sesame Oil and saute ginger, garlic and shallot until tender.

3. Add chicken thighs and increase heat to medium-high, paying attention not to burn the aromatics.  Cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°.  Remove chicken from the pan and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

4. Add chili paste, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sake (optional), chicken stock, sugar, salt and pepper to pot.  Stir to incorporate and let simmer. (Sorry for the horrible quality of the photo...I kinda forgot to take a photo for this step and rushed.  Oops.)

5. Before tossing your noodles in boiling water (They'll only take a couple of minutes), make sure your garnish/toppings are prepped.   To prepare the chicken, remove the chicken thighs from the bones and slice into small strips.

6.  Cook your noodles in boiling water.  You won't need to salt your noodles since they typically are already salty enough.

7. To assemble, place noodles in the bottom of a deep bowl. Spoon broth and top with whatever garnishes you'd like.

I've decided my blog needs a makeover.  Since I chopped my hair off and I now have a fancy new haircut, I figured a few other things need to be freshened up as well.  You may have noticed my blog has changed a bit.  I'm still messing around with what I want it to look like or even if I should keep going with the recipes.

Meh. I'll figure it out.

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