Thursday, 13 August 2009

Thrifty Recipe number 1: Linguine Carbonara

Life at the bottom end of the teachers' pay scale in times of recession is terribly hard. Miss Underscore is on a budget!!! So, I shall be devoting some time to posting some thrifty but satisfying recipes.

Pasta dishes are always cheap options, but Carbonara still feels like a luxurious, decadent supper. It's the cream. Carbonara also just takes 10 minutes to make. Consequently it is my usual Monday night supper. It is just the consoling hug I need after our weekly, tortuous after-school staff meeting.

This costs about £1 to make, which is amazing when you think how much you pay for a 'decent' (i.e. M&S) ready meal. I do find pasta suppers make me terribly sleepy though. Which makes me wonder how Italian men gain their reputation in the bedroom.

You know, whilst on dates I tend to lose my appetite. Love (or lust) does that to me. I spent a whole weekend with Rochester and lived a plate of scrambled eggs and about half a dozen chips. By the time I got back to Newcastle airport I was so ravenous I gobbled 2 Greggs' jumbo sausage rolls in 3 seconds flat.

I once had an internet 1st date with a college professor. He seemed nice. After the date I gave him the nickname Rumple-le-bon, this was because when he turned up he was bedecked in 1980s clothes and also was very gnome-like in appearance, like the wicked imp Rumplestiltskin from Grimm's fairy tale. Anyway, he took me to an Italian restaurant. When I found myself devouring 3 courses (including spaghetti carbonara) it occurred to me that this was a dreadful sign. I just didn't fancy the leather clad pixie.

I also drank too much that night and found myself re-enacting a scene from Dallas (I was in my Dallas phase at the time). The scene was Jock Ewing's heart attack. I was attempting to explain how wooden the actor was, but, as I was marinated in cheap gin and my date was looking rather perplexed I decided a Crimewatch style reconstruction was required. So, in the middle of the restaurant I gasped dramatically, grabbed my chest, went as glassy eyed as a haddock and slid to the floor and under the table.

Needless to say, we never made it to date number 2.

Linguine Carbonara
  • Linguine
  • 2 or 3 rashers of smoked, streaky bacon chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • the juice of half a lemon (or a little white wine if you have it)
  • 1 small courgette or a handful of mushrooms
  • glug of double cream
  • grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • sprinkling of chili flakes and lots of black pepper


Put your pasta on to cook. The sauce will be made in two shakes of a lamb's tail (or about 5 minutes, if you don't have any lamb's tails to hand).

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and saute the bacon. After a minute or two, when it is beginning to colour throw in the thinly sliced courgette (or mushrooms). Cook for another 3 minutes until the bacon is beginning to crisp and the courgettes are softened. For the last minute you can add the crushed garlic and a few chili flakes.

Whilst your bacon is cooking, beat the egg and add the lemon juice, cream and a handful of cheese. Mix together well.

When the pasta is cooked drain it and add it to the garlicy bacon. Stir to make sure the linguine is coated in the savory mixture. Then pour over the creamy egg and stir well. Do this over a very, very low heat (or you'll end up with scrambled eggs). It is ready when everything is mixed well and the sauce has thickened slightly. That will only take about 30 seconds.

Serve with extra cheese and a green salad tossed in a very sharp dressing.

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