Fettucine carbonara, sounds so rich and decadent and tastes just the same, but it’s much lighter than you would think from the taste of it. The no cook sauce is super simple and super delicious, with just egg yolks, nutmeg, fresh herbs and cheese, yum! If you want to make it extra special and a little more decadent, you can add in just a little cream, half & half or even mascarpone cheese, but even without the extra creaminess the finished dish is delicious and elegant enough for company.
Most carbonara recipes you will find have the addition of pancetta, but since I don’t eat meat, I replace the pancetta with crispy oven roasted shitake mushrooms and chives, which I think is even better!
Shitakes and chives, ready to roast
Fettucine Carbonara with Crispy Roasted Shitakes
Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones
1 pound fettucine pasta (make it gluten free with your favorite GF pasta)
3 egg yolks
About ½ cup or a little more grated Romano cheese
Grated nutmeg – just a little
Chopped parsley and chives plus about 10 whole chives
6-10 shitake mushrooms – cleaned & sliced
Optional: about 2 Tablespoons cream or half & half or mascarpone – if you’re feeling decadent!
When I was young, my Italian Nana would often make a recipe for me that I loved. Long strands of twisted fusilli pasta with broccoli cooked in the same pot until it was so soft it nearly fell apart when I ate it. The salted water with the broccoli and pasta would develop a lovely brothy flavor which would be ladled into the bowl with the rest and then topped with some grated Romano cheese. It was delicious and to this day I still dream of it. Here I’ve cooked the fusilli and broccoli a bit more al dente, although the broccoli still is quite tender, and I added a creamy light ricotta “sauce”. Eating this now reminds me of my Nana. As the say in Italy, Buon Appetito!
Fusilli con Broccoli with Creamy Ricotta Sauce
Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones
1 pound pasta – fusilli or other shape, orecchiettie is also good
1 cup Ricotta cheese
Handful of chopped Parsley or Basil
Grated Romano cheese
Grated Ricotta Salata cheese
Zest of ½ Lemon
3 cloves Garlic – chopped
Hot Red Pepper Flakes or Black Pepper
1 bunch of Broccoli florets, cut to bite size pieces
Cook pasta until al dente in salted water, making sure to reserve some of the cooking liquid for the sauce. During the last 2 minutes, add the chopped Broccoli to the pot and stir around.
While the pasta cooks, in a small saucepan add the chopped garlic, a pinch of salt and olive oil to cover. Warm over low heat, to infuse the oil with garlic flavor and gently cook the garlic. – this step is optional and can be skipped if you’re not a huge fan of garlic, but I think it adds a great extra layer of flavor to the finished dish.
Also, while the pasta cooks, to a large serving bowl add Ricotta, Parsley or Basil, grated cheeses and Lemon Zest. Mix together.
Add the cooked Pasta and Broccoli to the Ricotta mixture adding in some reserved pasta liquid a little bit at a time, until the sauce is the consistency you like. Pour the infused Olive Oil and Garlic over the Pasta and top with a bit of Red Pepper flakes or ground Black Pepper, whichever you prefer. Finish with a little extra grated Cheese if you like. Serve warm and Enjoy!
Recipe Notes: I love the lemon zest in this sauce but if you’re not a fan, feel free to skip it. In it’s absence I would add a little nutmeg.
I found a gorgeous bunch of rainbow chard at the market the other day, with bright yellow, orange and pinkish red stems and veins of color running through the green leaves, after all the darkness and cold of winter it just felt like a lovely bunch of spring had walked into my day. The whole drive home I thought and thought about what to make with my beautiful rainbow greens and then I came up with this recipe and I’m so happy I did. A simple but perfect combination of sautéed greens, a little garlic, a little zest, fresh mozzarella warmed through with a little hit of saltiness from the sun dried tomatoes and grated pecorino. This comes together in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. I paired this with short, twisty fusilli cooked to al dente perfection, the greens and cheese twirl around the fusilli to create a deliciously complete bite with every forkful.
RainbowChardwith Melty Fresh Mozzarella & Fusilli Pasta
Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones
1 pound Fusilli Pasta
1 large bunch Rainbow Chard or 2 small bunches (at least 12 large leaves)
2-3 large cloves Garlic
5-6 Sundried Tomatoes
4 ounces Fresh Mozzarella
Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
Zest of ½ – 1 whole Lemon
Red Pepper Flakes – just a pinch or more to taste
Cook Pasta in salted water until al dente. BEFORE draining the cooked pasta, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce.
Chop Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes. Wash Rainbow Chard and then cut into ribbons. I do this by stacking all the leaves and then folding them over lengthwise, then slicing across (a sharp knife should cut through the stack pretty easily). Cut Mozzarella into small cubes.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet (deep enough to hold the veges and pasta), add a good drizzle of Olive Oil and then toss in the chopped Garlic and season with a pinch of salt. Cook until the Garlic is just beginning to get a little color and then add in the chopped Sundried Tomatoes. Stir the Garlic and Tomatoes as they cook another minute or so.
To the Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes, add in about a third of the chopped Rainbow Chard, starting with the chopped stems and some leaves, after a minute or two once the Chard has wilted down a bit, add in another third and stir, adding in the remaining Chard once the last bit has wilted some. Season with a little more salt. Cook the Chard for a few minutes, stirring as you go, until it has wilted but still has it’s vibrant color.
Stir in about 2 – 3 Tablespoons of Grated Romano cheese and then the Lemon Zest and Red Pepper Flakes. At this point you can pour in some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to start creating a bit of a sauce (note, you may not need to use all the reserved liquid, add a little at a time and more as needed).
Next pour in the cooked Pasta and then the chopped Mozzarella, plus another drizzle of Olive Oil, stir to combine and until the Mozzarella begins to melt into the chard and pasta. Add more liquid if necessary and top with a little more grated Romano if you like.
Serve with extra grated cheese at the table. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes: If you can’t find Rainbow Chard, substitute with Swiss Chard or Beet Greens. Spinach would also be fine, except you’ll need a lot more as it wilts down quite a bit more than chard does.
Meat free, gluten free, but full on flavor! These tasty lentil meatballs are the perfect prescription for any vegetarian missing that classic childhood favorite “spaghetti and meatballs”. But these little bites are so yummy even meat eaters won’t miss the meat. These are in regular rotation at chez Jones.
1 can black lentils – about 2 cups (*see recipe note below)
¾ cup ricotta cheese (I use part skim)
¼ cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese (Locatelli is the best)
2 cloves garlic – crushed
1 shallot – finely chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 ½ teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
Lemon zest – from about ½ – 1 whole lemon
1 Tablespoon olive oil (I use extra virgin always)
1 cup cooked quinoa (use leftover or cook ¼ cup dry with ½ cup water in advance)
Drain and rinse the lentils and place in a medium size bowl. Mash the lentils with the back of a fork or potato masher, but don’t completely pulverize, you want to still have some intact lentils.
Add to the lentils all remaining ingredients except the quinoa. Mix well to combine and then add in the quinoa and mix through.
To help keep the mix from falling apart, place in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes. You could also mix this up in the morning and then have it all ready to go at dinner time or even mix it all up the night before.
While chilling…Preheat oven to 400 F. And if you plan to serve with spaghetti, start boiling your water and/or prepping the rest of your meal.
After your mix has chilled, line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper or brush the pan with olive oil if you don’t have any parchment on hand.
Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and start forming balls, about 1 inch in diameter. I use my smallest spring loaded ice cream scoop to form the balls, place them on the pan and then press any loose ends together with my fingers once they’re all on the pan. This recipe makes about 28-32 balls. These don’t need a lot of space on the pan, so I pack them in pretty tight but don’t let them touch.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 F, until the bottoms begin to brown and then carefully turn and bake another 10 minutes.
Serve atop spaghetti with your favorite tomato sauce, I like them with a spicy tomato sauce, but marinara is tasty too. Or if you’d like to skip the pasta, they’re also great atop sautéed greens, like swiss chard. You could even squish them between some Italian bread with tomato sauce for a yummy vegetarian meatball sub. A little extra grated Romano cheese over the top completes it. Enjoy!
Recipe notes: don’t be dismayed if you feel like this makes too many, cooled leftovers freeze great for a quick meal in the future, just defrost and reheat. You could also serve these as party hors d’oeuvres with a little pesto dipping sauce.
*Also a note about lentils, I use black lentils also known as French lentils here, they are a bit firmer and hold up better than brown or green lentils when mashed and I like that slightly al dente bite they lend to these meatballs. If you can’t find them canned, you could easily cook up a batch of dried, lentils are the one bean that cooks up quickly without any need for overnight soaking.
My name is Jen and I never met a recipe I didn’t want to change. I view recipes as inspirational guidelines, not rules to follow. I hope you find some delicious healthy recipes that inspire you to cook and eat and feel free to change at will. If you enjoy what you see, please feel free to subscribe, you’ll receive recipes as my life and time permits and I promise not to fill your inbox or your tummies with any junk. Enjoy!