The simplicity in this luxuriously creamy spaghetti pasta is thanks to just 4 ingredients and a hearty dose of black pepper.
“Here. Smell this. Does it smell like it’s gone bad to you?”
I HATE hearing those words in my kitchen. It means I’ve let good food go bad.
One of the things I struggle most with as a food blogger is food waste. Not of other people’s, but of my own.
Way too often than I want to admit, I find produce in the crisper that has turned into a science fair project. Or I make two or three dinner recipes in the middle of the day and with the best of intentions I save them to eat for dinner duriung the week.
And then I forget about them. Or my husband and daughter want something different for dinner. And by the beginning of the next week, those entire meals end up wasted.
I’m diligently working on getting better at that. It disgusts me how easy it is for me to disregard food in this way.
Because 1 in 7 Americans currently struggle with hunger. That’s 48.1 million people including 15.3 million children and 5.1 million seniors.
Those people don’t have the luxury of using 4 or 5 avocados to perfect their skills at making avocado roses. Or tossing the mega pack of chicken breasts in the garbage because they didn’t get around to cooking the whole package before the chicken started perfuming the fridge with that oh-too-familiar smell.
Whitney of the blog Jew Hungry asked me to join her and other food bloggers and contribute a post to highlight the plight of so many hungry Americans who simply can’t afford to feed themselves and their families when they have about $5 in their wallet for dinner.
So that was her challenge. To create a meal that costs less than $5 as part of her Foodies Fighting Hunger challenge. Whitney hopes this challenge will bring more exposure to the national nonprofit organization MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the nonprofit working to end hunger in the United States and Israel for all faiths and backgrounds.
“As the nation’s economic recovery continues, government programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps) provide a vital lifeline that helps people receive the sustenance they need to get back on their feet. 40% of households receiving SNAP benefits include at least one working person. The average benefit provided by SNAP equates to roughly $1.40 per person per meal – hardly an extravagant amount, and certainly not enough to do anything beyond simply get by.” ~ www.mazon.org
Thinking of a recipe that fit the bill was my challenge, but given that it’s one that millions are tasked with every day, I was more than ready to accept it.
In the scheme of things, Pasta Carbonara is fairly inexpensive to make. And uncomplicated. And the ingredients have a long fridge life so you won’t be found searching for the foul-smelling culprit you forgot about.
Here’s how I spent my $5. I went a little bit over, but considering this meal delivers 6 servings, I feel like it still falls within the challenge’s guidelines.
Spaghetti pasta: $3.50
1/2 dozen eggs: $.60
6 ounces bacon: $2.75
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese: $1.50
Salt and Pepper: I already had on hand
About the Recipe
Spaghetti Carbonara has only 4 main ingredients so the quality of those ingredients will dictate it’s level of deliciousness. For the purpose of keeping to my budget I used bacon for this recipe. For a more traditional version, pancetta or guanciale can be used.
Making this sauce one that coats the pasta instead of one that ends up as pasta with scrambled eggs, you’ll want to work quickly and efficiently and be sure your pasta is hot, hot, hot. I’ve followed Mario Batali’s lead in separating the eggs and mixing all of the whites with the cheese, actually cooking the sauce in the hot pasta. The yolks are served on each of the dished pasta portions for the guests to mix in themselves and cook into the hot pasta. It makes a fun presentation.
Be sure to adequately salt your water to flavor your pasta with at least 3 tablespoons of salt or so it tastes like the ocean. It truly does make all the difference.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe
- 1 pound spaghetti
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces sliced bacon cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 6 large eggs
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
In a large pot, cook the spaghetti in generously salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta water.
While the spaghetti is cooking, in another large pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat and cook the bacon until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the pepper and remove from the heat.
Separate the eggs, being careful to keep the egg yolks intact. Put the whites in a small bowl and the yolks in another or place the yolks each back into one half of it's shell. Whisk the egg whites until frothy. Whisk in the pecorino romano.
Add the reserved pasta water to the bacon and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Add the hot pasta to the bacon mixture and toss well to combine. Add the whisked eggs and cheese to the pasta, stir and toss to coat well. The residual heat from the hot pasta will cook the sauce, but toss quickly so the eggs don't scramble.
Divide the pasta among six bowls making a nest in the center of each pile of pasta. Gently drop and egg yolk into the center of each portion and serve immediately. Stir the yolk into the pasta so it will cook. Add more black pepper and grated pecorino romano to taste.
Adapted from Mario Batali'a Molto Gusto
Help Yourself and Help Others Who Are Hungry
Following are a few other bloggers who took on the $5 challenge for Foodies Fighting Hunger. Check out their posts and share your own versions or ideas for a $5 dinner on Instagram by tagging it #foodiesfightinghunger
Ramen Alfredo with Fresh Herbs | Jew Hungry
Spicy Tomato Chickpea Pasta | The Bojon Gourmet
Fried Green Tomato Sabich | What Jew Wanna Eat
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Overnight Oats | Let’s Eat Cake
If you would like to do more to make a difference for those who are going hungry tonight, here are a few things you can do to help.
- Tell Congress to end hunger for military families now.
- Invest and Improve Child Nutrition Programs.
- Educate others: Share this post and other posts involved in this advocacy campaign.
- Sign up to volunteer by yourself or with your family at various local food shelters.
- Next time you host a holiday party or birthday party, ask friends to bring a canned good or other donate-able food item instead of a gift and then donate it to your local food bank.
As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
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