There are many sources of inspiration for a recipe. It can be from a dish one tasted during a trip. It can be a good dish eaten at a restaurant. And let’s not forget that many recipes are created by simply working with what’s available at home or a nearby grocery.
The list can go on and on. There are not a few cases, though, when a recipe is born because of one’s bad experience at a restaurant. This is one of them. There’s a pizzeria here in Manila that tries to serve Brooklyn-style pizza and pasta. I love one of their pasta dishes — Red Carbonara. It’s spaghetti with a smoked, meaty-tasting, creamy tomato sauce. Unfortunately for me, during my last trip to the place, the service was just oh so horrible! It’s a long story. Bottom line: service was so bad, I firmly resolved to never, ever go to that place again. I even admit to having thrown a mineral water bottle to the floor because the service was thaaat baaaad. Don’t worry, I made sure no one got hurt. (Now, if you have been reading carefully, you may already know which restaurant I am speaking of)
Having sworn to never return and sworn to make known the restaurant’s poor service (epic fail!), I was inspired to make the dish on my own. I realized — hey, I can cook. Why not make the dish at home? I can even save money. It’s easy to make too. So here it is, my version of Red Carbonara.
Ingredients and Directions
1) This recipe serves two. You can use your favorite pasta noodles. I would recommend spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, or linguine. I used 200g of pasta — or a little less than half a pound of noodles.
2) For the sauce, chop 3 medium-size tomatoes. You can do a fine dice. The night I made this dish, I used a more coarse chop since I wanted more bite to the dish. Finely chop 4 cloves of garlic. Also chop 1 can of shitake mushrooms (fresh is perfectly all right), as well as 6 strips of bacon, chopped. I love the flavor added by the shitake mushrooms. They give a meaty consistency and taste to the dish — minus the real calories we get from beef.
3) Using medium heat, saute the ingredients in your pan using extra virgin olive oil. Start by placing the bacon. Once the bacon starts to get crispy, add the tomatoes, garlic, and shitake mushrooms. If you want your bacon very crispy, you can fry the bacon in a non-stick pan without any oil, and just allow the bacon to cook on its own oil.
4) Reduce the heat. Add 1 cup all-purpose cream and 1 cup tomato sauce. Normally, one associates carbonara with eggs. I’ve omitted the eggs as the sauce is already rich.
5) Add the noodles. Add grated parmesan cheese. You can add a more cream and tomato sauce if the noodles need more sauce. You can add freshly-chopped parsley too for garnish and extra flavor, by the way.
I loved how it turned out. It was very creamy but chunky because of the way I chopped the ingredients. The shitake and bacon wonderfully complement each other. Enjoy!