“In heaven, after antipasti, the first course will be pasta.”
— Steve Albini
We’d both arrived home late, so birthday dinner for the Gardener needed to be something easy, yet still feel special. We’d happened to pick up duck eggs while at the Winter Farmers’ Market in Rollinsford, and, with those on hand, a luxurious Pasta Carbonara came together quickly. A red onion plucked from root storage and caramelized in good olive oil stands in handily for the traditional pancetta, and tossing in some winter sweetened kale satisfies our mid-season cravings for greens. Thick strands of bucatini, a kind of hollow spaghetti, pairs especially well with the unctuous sauce, as did the celebratory bottle of champagne — an unexpectedly heavenly combination.
Pasta Carbonara with Kale
½ cup good olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 to 2 bunches kale, stemmed and cut into shreds
½ cup white wine
4 to 6 fresh eggs (chicken or duck)
1 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus extra for the table
1 pound bucatini, or other long pasta
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
– Bring a large pot of water for the pasta to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the red onions, and sauté until beginning to brown and caramelize. Stir in the shredded kale (we liked having more than less), and continue to cook until barely wilted. Deglaze with white wine, remove pan from heat and set aside. Beat the eggs in with the cheese — 4 eggs are sufficient, especially if they’re large; we used 6 to compensate for the extra kale — and set aside.
– Salt the pasta water, drop in the bucatini and stir once to separate. Cook until just al dente and drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Set the frying pan over medium low heat, and add the drained pasta to the onion and kale. Pour in the eggs and cheese mixture, and gently toss together until the eggs are cooked; they should slowly become creamy, rather than scrambled. If necessary, add some reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce. Immediately remove the pan from heat, and season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with extra pecorino on the side. For 4 to 6, depending on the occasion.