Pasta, Rice, and Grains

Sweet Potato & Spinach Carbonara

by Shawnda on February 3, 2014

in Carbonara,Pasta, Rice, and Grains,Pork,Veggies & Starches

Sweet Potato & Spinach Carbonara

My friend Katie has been called The Carbonara Queen. Crab, jalapeno & corn, BLT, lemon & spinach. If it can be whisked into that creamy sauce of bacon, pepper, eggs, and cheese, she has done it.

She’s kind of my Pasta Patronus. And I’d like to be just like her when I grow up:

Zucchini Carbonara Roasted Broccoli Carbonara Fettuccine alla Carbonara

One of her last Carbonara creations was a beautiful stomach-growl-inducing adaptation: Butternut Squash & Spinach Carbonara.

I didn’t have butternut squash – or the desire to put on pants and mascara to go get some (that’s my minimum to go in public) – but I did have sweet potatoes. I pulled out my favorite basic carbonara recipe, a few slices of bacon, and was on my way to what would quickly become a house-favorite carbonara.

Sweet Potato and Spinach Carbonara

It’s because there’s bacon. And diced sweet potatoes that are cooked in bacon drippings until nicely caramelized, and then tossed with hot pasta and wilted fresh spinach until a beautiful, peppery, creamy sauce forms from the bacon, eggs, and cheese.

And bacon.

Carbonara is really the closest thing I can get to meatless meal without the natives rebelling. Or complaining about “spinach again?” But with this one, everyone wins here.

Sweet Potato & Spinach Carbonara

Creamy, peppery carbonara with caramelized sweet potatoes and fresh spinach.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/3-inch slices and then diced
  • 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • 8 oz pasta
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 oz finely grated Parmesan (about 1 3/4 cup), divided
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saute pan over high heat and add the bacon, cooking until almost completely crisped.
  2. When the bacon has completely browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl (big enough for mixing the entire recipe).
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until nicely browned and fork-tender (but not mushy), about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  4. Add the black pepper and spinach, cover, and turn off the heat - let sit ~2 minutes, until the spinach has wilted.
  5. Mix the eggs and 1 1/2 cups cheese together with the bacon, stirring to mix well.
  6. Add pasta to boiling water and cook per package directions. Set aside 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
  7. Immediately add the hot pasta and a splash or two of the hot pasta water (~2 Tbsp at a time) to the bowl with the bacon mixture, while stirring/tossing vigorously to create a creamy sauce.
  8. Toss in the sweet potato mixture and additional splashes of pasta water if necessary to adjust sauce consistency (and if you add too much water, just let the pasta stand for a few minutes).
  9. Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese

Notes

Yields: 4 servings

Inspired by So Tasty, So Yummy

Estimated time: 35 minutes

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Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara

So remember that roasted cauliflower? You know, the healthy side dish that once actually grew in the ground? The eat-straight-from-the-pan lunch that wasn’t candy-coated or Funyuns?

This is what I did with the leftovers.

Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara

I took one of our favorite versions of carbonara, which replaces half of the pasta with plant things (this time leftover roasted cauliflower) and had an instant winner on my hands.

Honestly, there’s a little bit of bacon and there’s some Parmesan along with those glorious carbs… so anyone who declared that dish a “you don’t need to make this again” would probably be forwarding their mail at this point.

Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara

Roasted Cauliflower Carbonara

Roasted cauliflower replaces half of the pasta in this traditional carbonara.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (or more) roasted cauliflower*
  • 8 oz pasta
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups shredded Parmesan (~3 oz), divided
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • *If you're cooking the cauliflower, put it in the oven before you start cooking the pasta.

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saute pan over high heat and add the bacon, cooking until almost completely crisped.
  2. Add the black pepper and, when the bacon has completely browned, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl (big enough for mixing the entire recipe).
  3. Mix the eggs and 1 1/2 cups cheese together in a smaller bowl, then add to the bacon mixture, stirring to mix well.
  4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook per package directions. Set aside 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
  5. Immediately add the hot pasta and a splash or two of the hot pasta water (~2 Tbsp at a time) to the bowl, while stirring vigorously to create a creamy sauce.
  6. Add the cauliflower, toss to coat (adding additional water if necessary).
  7. Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese.

Notes

Yields: 4 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 30 minutes

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Green Chile Chicken & Quinoa Stew

For the last three weeks, the majority of our meals have come from either the hospital vending machine, a Chick-fil-A drive-thru, or Disney World.

Talk about extremes. (And my favorites were obviously from Disney World!)

After getting back from our trip this week, I spent most of yesterday limping around the kitchen for some make-ahead meal prep. I whipped up a big batch of quinoa to be used in stew and for a winterized version of our favorite salad, shredded a massive amount of chicken portioned in half-pound baggies for the freezer, and popped open the jar of Cookwell & Company Two-Step Green Chile Stew that came with this month’s HEB Primo Picks.

Green Chile Chicken & Quinoa Stew

Because a girl can only feed her family Funyuns and waffle fries so many times before feeling a little like a terrible person. And a girl only needs to hear her 3.87 year-old say, “Momma, I can have broccoli for a treat today?” once before really feeling like a terrible person.

But I actually had a plan for the post-vacation and post-vending machine detox. A quick-fix green chile stew beefed up into a healthful, hearty one-bowl meal with shredded chicken, navy beans, quinoa, pico de gallo, and a dollop of fat-free Greek yogurt on top.

Green Chile Chicken & Quinoa Stew

It’s healthy, delicious, and just a hint of some low-grade heat from the green chiles. Minimal prep time – admittedly not as fast as swiping a card and punching D12 – but maximum nutrition. And that’s just something you can’t get out of a vending machine or from a drive-thru window.

Green Chile Chicken & Quinoa Stew

Ingredients

  • 32 oz jar Cookwell & Company Two-Step Green Chile Stew
  • 8 oz "leftover" chicken, shredded*
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 can navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • For serving:
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded (or not) and diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • Salt
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt
  • * I make "leftover" chicken in the oven in a foil pouch - 2 breasts per pouch at 425 for 20 minutes.

Instructions

  1. In a medium/large pot, heat the green chile stew over medium heat.
  2. Add the shredded chicken, cooked quinoa, and navy beans, simmering until heated through.
  3. Stir together the tomatoes, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt and set aside.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with a generous scoop of pico de gallo and a dollop of plain yogurt or light sour cream.

Notes

Yields: ~6 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 30 minutes

This recipe was developed in conjunction with H-E-B and I was provided ingredients as well as compensated for my time. Messy fingers, stretchy-waisted pants, and baby-Elmo-clogged-toilets are all mine. You can find H-E-B on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. And if you’re as lucky as we are, 4 locations within a 5 mile radius.

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Chicken Lo Mein

There are some days that only the ringing of the door bell can fix. Assuming the person on the other side of that door is holding a large brown bag full of an oil-drenched sodium bomb.

Or a margarita. (And one day, I’ll bring that dream of a margarita delivery service to life. Or at least be their very best customer.)

No amount of justifying “but homemade is soooo much better – and better for you!” fixes those days. Carbs must be over-paid for. Then delivered outside of the promised window without the extra spicy mustard you specifically requested. And then consumed in excess, and far too fast.

But on days when you don’t need the psychological effect of throwing your credit card at a stranger standing on your front step, homemade is so better. And better for you. Because there’s room in everyone’s kitchen for a take-out recipe that doesn’t come drenched in a 1/2 cup of oil.

Chicken Lo Mein

For the last 5 years, that bowl of DIY take-out Chicken Lo Mein has been the second-most popular noodle dish in this house. 5 years.

The recipe comes courtesy of my friend Elly over at Elly Says Opa. Her blog is usually the place I visit when I’m short on ideas for our weekly menu. Also, it’s where I go when I want to look at dreamy photos of delicious Greek food that no one else in this house would eat with me.

Well, at least not before I introduced them to the magicalness of gyro and baklava at Greek Fest… but that’s a different story and a different recipe.

Today, it’s Chinese Food from my favorite Greek blogger.

Chicken Lo Mein

We make a few minor changes to the recipe. We don’t incite the natives to rebel by including mushrooms. And the open-bag-of-frozen-snap-peas-dump-in-pan keeps the littlest native from picking through her bowl of noodles looking for an offending chunk of celery or an icky chunk of carrot. (Because in typical 3 year old logic, carrots are awesome raw and carrots are awesome cooked to a mush in a can of soup. But she will cut you – and by “you” I mean “me” – over anything in between).

And sometimes we add orange juice and strips of orange zest. And sometimes that orange becomes grapefruit.

And when we can’t keep up with the red bell peppers from the garden, I throw in as many of those as I can squeeze into the pan.

And as long as there’s no celery or mushrooms or carrots, everyone is happy. And stays happy.

Chicken Lo Mein

A lighter, better-for-you-than-takeout chicken lo mein.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz lo mein noodles
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp olive (or other cooking) oil
  • 8 oz chicken breast, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, quartered and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 green onions, sliced (dark green parts reserved)
  • 8 oz frozen snow peas
  • Sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Cook the lo mein noodles according to package directions.
  2. Drain, toss with a few dashes of sesame oil, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the oyster sauce, soy, chicken stock, cornstarch, and red pepper until smooth; set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet (I use a nonstick pan) over high heat.
  5. Stir fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes, until almost cooked through and add the ginger, onions, garlic, white and light green onion parts, and snow peas.
  6. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the onions are cooked to your preference, stirring frequently.
  7. Whisk the sauce and add it to the pan, letting it boil for 1 minute before adding the noodles.
  8. Toss to coat, top with dark green onion slices, and serve.

Notes

Yields: 4 servings

Slightly adapted from Elly Says Opa

Estimated time: 40 minutes

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