Yesterday, it rained in Rome. And for the first time since I’ve been here, it was quiet. The sound of the rain drowned out the girl two floors down who sings American pop songs without really knowing what the words mean (luckily, she has a decent voice, and her music taste is eclectic– she’s gone from Coldplay to Rihanna to the Eagles and back again– so I really actually enjoy it). It washed away the sound of the old man’s TV across the street– the old man who says “buongiorno!” every morning when I leave and “buona sera!” every evening when I return. And I didn’t hear the garbage trucks at 11:00pm (umm… WHY? 11:00pm?! Every night?!).
It was a perfect, cool, quiet, peaceful first-day-of-fall evening. It made me love this neighborhood just a little more.
There is a lot to love here, of course. The fruit vendor down the street who always adds grapes to my bag after I’ve paid and picks out the ripest peaches and the juiciest tomatoes for me. The way everyone in my building plays music on Sunday afternoons. Church bells every morning and evening. Espresso.
Oh, and the food.
There are a couple Roman specialities that I plan to recreate, adapt, put my own spin on throughout the next few months: cacio e pepe, amatriciana, pizza.
Every restaurant here makes these things differently (and of course, every restaurant’s version is the “best” or the “most traditional”).
Today, I want to share with you my version of the classic carbonara. Instead of pasta, I used zucchini noodles to lighten it up after spending two weeks eating pasta and gelato everyday with my parents. We all need a green vegetable once in a while. You could easily use pasta instead of zucchini noodles (or why not both?), but if you go all-vegetable, you’ll still feel like you’re getting a treat. The creamy, eggy, cheesy sauce is rich and easy and addictive.
As a note, a lot of my upcoming recipes will be sized for an individual serving– for obvious reasons, but also because I have a tiny refrigerator that really can’t store leftovers in addition to my groceries. But, they will all be very easy to upscale to feed the friends and family you might be welcoming to your table.
(unfortunately the recipe card app is not currently working… so while I sort that out, here is the recipe the old-fashioned way!)
Zucchini Carbonara (serves 1, but easily adapted for more people!)
1 slice prosciutto or bacon per serving
2-3 small or 1-2 large zucchini per serving
1 egg yolk per serving
2-3 tbs grated parmesan, romano, grana padano, or similar cheese per serving
salt and pepper to taste.
Wash and dry zucchini. Cut off the top and bottom. Using a spiralizer or vegetable peeler, make noodles. If using a vegetable peeler, use long strokes, starting on one side of the zucchini; stop when you reach the seeds, and continue on all sides.
Set a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
Dice the bacon/prosciutto into small pieces.
Once the skillet is hot, add the bacon/prosciutto and cook until crispy.
Add the zucchini noodles, and cook until tender (about 3-5 minutes).
Transfer the zucchini and bacon to a medium sized bowl, making sure to include the dripping from the bacon (this helps make the sauce!).
Add the egg yolk and stir immediately to combine- this way, the egg will cook, but will not harden like scrambled eggs.
Add the cheese, salt, and pepper and mix.
Serve immediately topped with extra cheese, if desired.