Cauliflower Carbonara

I decided to go back and try another pasta dish.  I was intrigued by a recipe from Epicurious for Cauliflower Carbonara.  Carbonara is that pasta sauce made by emulsifying eggs and bacon fat along with a healthy dose of cheese.  All things good.  However, a little unhealthy, and I’m not talking about the eggs.  It’s fantastic that they added the cauliflower.  That adds fiber and vitamin C.  When I went to calculate the original stats for this recipe, I was surprised to see that there was plenty of protein.  I thought I would have to add some.  There’s not a whole lot of vitamin A, but I can pick something to go with the creamy sauce.  The calories are kind of high too, but that can be mitigated.  What I want to achieve with this dish is all of the comfort and none of the guilt that goes with it.  It also can’t be a freakishly small serving that isn’t filling either.  Let’s hope.  Here are the original stats:

Here’s what I changed:

  • I deleted the added salt to reduce the sodium.
  • I swapped out the bacon with a lower sodium variety.
  • I reduced the olive oil to only the amount for the sauce reduce the calories.
  • I added butternut squash to increase the vitamin A.
  • I swapped out the pasta with chickpea pasta to make it gluten-free.
  • I doubled the servings to reduce the calories.

Here are the final stats:

Here is the final recipe:


Cauliflower Carbonara

Serves 8

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 pound butternut squash, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper, divided, plus more
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 6 oz. low sodium bacon, chopped
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more for serving
  • 12 oz. gluten free pasta
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley (from about 1/2 bunch)
    1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Remove outer leaves and core of cauliflower. Cut florets into 3/4″ pieces. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray along with the butternut squash. Add 1/2 tsp. pepper and toss to combine. Roast, tossing once halfway through, until cauliflower and squash is deeply charred in spots, 30–35 minutes. Immediately grate garlic over hot cauliflower and toss to combine (you’re counting on the residual heat to soften the garlic); set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Transfer bacon and 1 Tbsp. bacon fat to a large bowl. Add egg yolks, 1 cup Parmesan, 2 tsp. pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Whisk to combine with a fork (it will be very thick, but that’s okay).
    3. Add pasta and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to bowl with egg yolk mixture and toss vigorously and continuously with a wooden spoon to create a creamy emulsified sauce that coats pasta, adding more cooking liquid as needed. This may require more tossing than you expect! Keep at it for at least 1 minute. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Add roasted cauliflower, butternut squash and parsley and toss again to coat.
    4. Divide pasta among bowls. Top with more Parmesan and a few generous cranks of pepper.

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