Meatless Monday – Spaghetti Carbonara with Shiitake ‘Bacon’

20150206_195814

BACON…OMG! I think I’ve found the Holy Grail! As you might have gleaned from past blog posts, I love loved bacon.  I don’t eat it anymore but that doesn’t mean I’m going down without a fight.  I have taken on the challenge of finding that perfect bacon substitute that satisfies our taste for ‘umame’ (horrible word whoever came up with the name), which is considered one of the five basic tastes, including sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Umami, translated from Japanese as a “pleasant savory taste” is thought to hit our brain receptors as a long lasting and mouth watering sensation on our tongues, which is why we love that salty, savory yumminess that you get from foods like bacon.  I have tried a few recipes with decent results like ‘Coconut Bacon’ and Crispy Shallots but when I came across directions for making Shiitake ‘Bacon’ in the Cook Fresh,Winter 2015 magazine I knew I had to give it a go.  All I can say is that my husband’s eyes rolled back in his head and he said “Oh, God!”when he tried a piece. Winner!

20150206_192426

Enough about umame, let’s talk about mushrooms.  People either love or hate mushrooms and I know mushroom detractors will stay far away from them, but if you are a mushroom lover like I am, here are five reasons you should be eating more, compliments of Eat Local Grown (Click to read the full article)

  1.  WEIGHT LOSS-Consumption of mushrooms could be useful in regulating glucose levels, that might make it easier to lose weight by controlling blood sugar.
  2. NUTRIENT ABSORPTION- Mushrooms happen to be one of the few vegetables considered to be a good source of edible Vitamin D which can facilitate the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus.
  3. STRONGER BONES-Mushrooms contain  calcium which has been shown to reduce joint pain, lack of mobility and risk for osteoporosis when consumed.
  4. DIABETES MANAGEMENT- Mushrooms are considered a good tool for dietary management of this condition, as they contain natural insulin and enzymes which help the body break down sugar and starch in other foods.
  5. IMMUNE HEALTH- As one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world, it’s no surprised that mushrooms have been found to stimulate and regulate the body’s immune system.

 20150206_180741

I’m not sure why I thought of Spaghetti Carbonara because I  have never made a Carbonara sauce before but I was trying to think of something I used to like that requires bacon. Not having a family recipe, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with a recipe from local chef, Tyler Florence, and I was not disappointed.  Of course I modified his recipe a bit to include my Shiitake ‘Bacon’.

20150208_103528

For those of you who are interested in making your meal vegetarian, make sure you buy vegetarian Parmesan cheese.  I know it was a surprise for me to learn that traditional parmesan is made from animal rennet which is an enzyme, harvested from ruminants (grass eating animals like cows and goats), which helps turn the milk into cheese.  There are vegetarian cheeses available that are made with vegetable-based rennet that are equally delicious. I can’t taste the difference. They are usually labelled vegetarian. I have had good luck finding vegetarian parm at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

TIP:  Shiitake mushroom stems are edible but they are tough and woody and not great in this pasta.  I recommend removing the stems and just using the caps. If you enjoy making your own stock, the stems are great for making a rich vegetable stock along with odds and ends of other veggies like carrots, celery and onions. Leave the onion skins on for a glorious golden color and include any veggie ‘tops’.  Just cover with water, add a bay leaf and some fresh herbs and simmer for several hours. Let cool, strain and store in the refrigerator for up to four days or freeze it for later.

20150206_195814

SPAGHETTI CARBONARA WITH SHIITAKE ‘BACON’

3/4 pound dry spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (or more) shiitake ‘bacon’ (recipe below)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian “al dente.”) Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water. (Easiest done by scooping out with a cup before draining)

20150206_193319

  • Prepare everything while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Chop parsley.

20150206_195455

  • Meanwhile, pour the olive oil left from cooking the mushrooms in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add more oil if needed to make 2 Tablespoons. Add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss to coat the strands in the oil.

20150206_195637

  • Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt.

20150206_195814

  • Gently fold in shiitake ‘bacon’ and garnish with parsley.

20150206_200619

  • Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and serve with more parsley and parmesan.

 

SHIITAKE ‘BACON’

20150206_192426

6 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms (about 2 cups)
3 Tbsn olive oil
salt to taste

  • Wipe mushrooms caps with a damp papertowel, remove stems (set aside for another use) and slice mushroom caps into thin strips.

20150206_182312

  • Place mushrooms in a baking dish and toss with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt.

20150206_185450

  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. For best results, place in the lower third of the oven and stir several times.
  • Let cool
  • Use in salads, omelettes, sandwiches, pastas and any other dishes that normally call for bacon.

 

 

Spaghetti Carbonara with Shiitake 'Bacon'

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

20150206_195814

3/4 pound dry spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (or more) shiitake ‘bacon’ (recipe below)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian “al dente.”) Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water. (Easiest done by scooping out with a cup before draining)
  • Prepare everything while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Chop parsley.
  • Meanwhile, pour the olive oil left from cooking the mushrooms in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add more oil if needed to make 2 Tablespoons. Add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss to coat the strands in the oil.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt.
  • Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass more cheese around the table.

Shiitake 'Bacon'

  • Servings: scant 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

20150206_192426

6 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms (about 2 cups)
3 Tbsn olive oil
salt to taste

  • Wipe mushrooms caps with a damp papertowel, remove stems (set aside for another use) and slice mushroom caps into thin strips.
  • Place mushrooms in a baking dish and toss with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Let cool
  • Use in salads, omelettes, sandwiches, pastas and any other dishes that normally call for bacon.

4 thoughts on “Meatless Monday – Spaghetti Carbonara with Shiitake ‘Bacon’

  1. Joyce, I am very tardy in thanking you for the marvelous dinner at your beautiful home. You were so kind to have our large unruly group. It was such an enjoyable evening. My husband has never asked for fish but is begging to have your salmon again… I LOVE your blog! I found it interesting to hear about finding your own voice amongst all the bloggers and your clear voice and style really shine through. The pictures, recipes, and directions make everything clear and easy. You have obviously rediscovered a hidden passion for delicious and tasty food. I can’t wait to try the shiitake bacon. Fondly, Janice

    Like

  2. Joyce: We had Tyler Florence first and foremost. He was born and bred in Greenville, S.C. which is now my hometown. Love to you and family. Aunt Dotty P.S. Your Blog is WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s