Ultimate Comfort Food – Lemon Linguine Carbonara

While the weather has drastically improved for the past few days, my mood has not. Nothing to kvetch about really, just a jumble of everyday concerns are making me grumpy and irritable. Enter the mood healing powers of lemons, pasta, parmesan, cream and bacon.

It had been quite a while since I had made Lemon Linguine from Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat. Normally I slot it in on fend-for-myself night, because Jeff finds it bland. One night, we wandered moodily together through a small grocery store near our apartment after an especially bad workday. I knew I had to make something for dinner that was fast, delicious, hedonistic, and simple enough that the little store would carry everything we needed. Lemon Linguine crossed my mind, and I remembered that we still had half a package of bacon leftover from Sunday’s big breakfast. A-ha! Bacon! We both love bacon, and I hoped that it would turn one of my favourite solitary meals into something we could both enjoy.

I quickly bought some cream, parmesan, and lemons, got home, married Lemon Linguine with a Carbonara recipe, and a dinner hit was born. We really shouldn’t have this very often, and if the weather stays as mild and sunny as is expected, I think this is the last time we’ll have it until the fall – it’s far too rich for the hot weather that’s just around the corner. But tonight it was perfection – soporific bliss.

We have it with a green salad dressed with oil and lemon juice vinaigrette to assuage the ‘heart attack on a plate’ connotations.

Linguine – as much as you need for the number of people eating
2 egg yolks
5 tablespoons whipping cream
5 tablespoons grated parmesan
zest and juice of 1 lemon
small knob of butter
5 strips of bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
1 shallot, finely diced

Cook linguine according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, fry bacon in a small pan, adding the diced shallots near the end of the bacon’s cooking time.

While the bacon and pasta are cooking, combine the egg yolks, cream, parmesan, lemon zest and juice in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper to taste. Set aside.

Before draining the pasta, take a measuring cup and hive off about 3/4 of a cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta, return pasta to pot, add knob of butter, stir until melted. Add the eggy, creamy lemony sauce and mix until every strand of pasta is coated. Add the bacon and shallots. As you are mixing the pasta, add some of the cooking water to loosen everything up. It may not look like it needs it, but by the time you plate the pasta, you’ll be glad you did, as the cheese continues to melt. You don’t want any chalkiness here, just a luscious creamy, eggy, lemony, bacony pasta.

Eat as soon as possible.

Note: the beauty of this dish is that you can play around with the quantities of each ingredient – if your sauce seems runny, add more grated parmesan, if it seizes up as you are mixing it, add more cream and lemon juice.