Most of my mom’s side of the family lives there and this is one of the important reasons why I go back to Greece as often as I do.
My first cousin Lia (see the resemblance) is also blessed with being raised and fed by a wonderful cook, my Theia (aunt) Angeliki (my mom’s sister).
Each year I make my pilgrimage back to my parents’ home town and I always stay at Lia’s house. This year, my Theia Angeliki was at my family’s summer home so, Lia was left with the cooking duties.
I arrived into Amynteo by train from Thessaloniki…just in time for lunch. Lia had prepared a surprising and delicious meal of Spinach Carbonara.
This is a such an easy and wonderful departure on the classic carbonara but it injects some hearty, healthy spinach into the mix (good way to sneak some greens in for your kids).
I’ve made this dish twice already…once using thawed frozen spinach and also with fresh baby spinach, wilted at the very end when tossing the sauce together. Either approach works wonderfully.
I’m delighted to share my cousin’s recipe of Spinach Carbonara with you…it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s filling and in a usual Kalofagas way, delicious!
Lia’s Spinach Carbonara
1 package (500gr.) dry linguine
12 strips of bacon
4 handfuls of thawed frozen spinach, squeezed of excess water
6 cups of fresh baby spinach, rinsed & pat dry
4 eggs yolks
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Kefalotyri cheese
lots of cracked black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 cup of red onions, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
some pasta water
some extra grated Kefalotyri (or Romano) cheese
- Place a large pot of water on your stovetop and bring to a boil. Add a good amount of salt and cook your pasta as per package instructions. In a small bowl, whisk your egg yolks, cream, grated cheese and black pepper and set aside.
- Chop your strips of bacon into bite-sized pieces and place in a large skillet. Add about a 1/3 cup of water and bring to a boil. The water will help render the fat in the bacon and eventually leave you with crispy bacon. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Remove excess bacon fat or add some olive oil if the skillet is too dry.
- Add your onions and smashed garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat while stirring. Now add the wine and keep on stirring to deglaze and release the brown bits from the bacon. Reduce until there’s almost no liquid left, take off the heat and reserve.
- As soon as your pasta is cooked, reserve some pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta back into the skillet, along with the bacon, egg/cream mixture and your spinach. Begin tossing and folding the sauce into the pasta. If your sauce is too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water and continue to coat. Your sauce should cook and thicken from the residual heat of the pasta. If the sauce is too loose, place your skillet under very low-heat and keep tossing the sauce & the pasta until it thickens.
- Plate the pasta with some more cracked black pepper and have some grated cheese available at the table.
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