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Total Control: Vegetarian Carbonara with Summer Greens


June 19, 2012

Her single command thus far….”Sit”, which she does eagerly and quite brilliantly (or so I’m told).

My life is a little nuts right now. It’s all good, and I’m very lucky, but things are a little crazy. I have my husband, my family, and my friends with whom I want to spend time. I have my job, my food blog, and my volunteer work with puppy rescue.  I have many wonderful trips to look forward to this summer including a wedding in Vermont, a clambake in Massachusetts, and girl’s wine weekend in Walla Walla. I have my meager attempts to get some sort of exercise to balance out said food blog and wine trips, not to mention my book club, my horseback riding, and my laundry. I have lots and lots of laundry lately it seems.

Happily chewing on an elk antler…and my running shoes…and my coffee table…

So it will come as no surprise that what seemed like the most logical decision, the most sensible way to go, was to get a puppy. In all honesty, I’m blaming this one squarely on Matt. He found a darling Neapolitan Mastiff puppy in Tacoma on Wednesday, emailed me in Boulder about it on Wednesday night, and by Thursday at noon she was happily chewing on Duke’s ear and quickly climbing the ladder to Number One Cute Pup In Town if you ask any non-biased person. To be fair, I didn’t exactly kick her out of bed for eating crackers either.

She is incessant in her need to be near Duke and he graciously obliges…I think he even likes it.

So this Monday night when I realized this was my only night off this week, and my fridge was exploding with goodies from our Hand Farmed Organics CSA and another box was arriving tomorrow [insert panic and self loathing at thought of throwing away organic vegetables HERE], I figured I’d better get cooking. A little quiet time in the kitchen always calms my nerves, and the self-righteousness that comes with making a delicious meal out of what’s in your fridge is hard to beat.

We try to do Meat Free Mondays, but honestly we usually don’t. Add that to the list of things that have gone to the wayside in our busyness. But tonight I succeeded, creating a sort of Vegetarian Carbonara and triumphantly using all the chard, spinach, and radishes up. It was surprisingly delicious, light and yet satisfying, and on the table in less than 30 minutes. A perfect meal when all you really want to do is play with the new puppy, and ignore the piles laundry building up in your temporarily empty guest room.

Vegetarian Carbonara with Summer Greens

Vegetarian Carbonara with Summer Greens

Serves 6

Carbonara is typically made with pancetta or bacon, but I didn’t have any and thought a vegetarian twist on the Italian classic might work. The radishes give it some nice bulk, and when the beaten egg is slowly added as you vigorously toss the pasta you get a rich sauce you’d swear had heavy cream in it.

1 lb pasta, whatever is in the cupboard

3 TB Olive Oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced

1 bundle of radishes, about 6, washed and thinly sliced with a mandolin

1 bunch chard, washed and coarsely chopped

1 bag spinach, washed

1/2 cup chives, thinly sliced (this seems like a lot, but is delicious and gives it a nice kick)

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup good parmesan cheese grated, plus more to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil until just beginning to turn golden, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium, add the radishes and the leeks, and cook until turning translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. Add the chard and spinach, returning heat to low, and cook until wilted and radishes and leeks fully cooked, another 5 minutes.
  5. To assemble take the warm pasta (you don’t want it too hot or the egg will scramble), and vigorously tossing with tongs slowly add the beaten egg, until it creates a rich coating.
  6. Add the chard/spinach mixture, chives, and the parmesan and continue tossing vigorously until all nicely mixed and coated.
  7. Serve with additional parmesan to taste and truffle salt.


  1. emmycooks says:

    “Carbonara” with greens is on my list. YOUR PUPPY IS SO CUTE! And her big brother’s a handsome fellow too. 🙂

    • Erina says:

      Nice! Let me know how it turns out! I know…she’s pretty stinking edible, isn’t she? And Duke is just the best.

  2. ValleyWriter says:

    Oh my goodness – how cute is that new little guy? (Or not so little as the case may be.) That little face has got to make all the craziness worth it!

    • Erina says:

      It absolutely does…you are so right. She is just so stinking cute I can’t stand it. She’s little now…but I think we’ll be pushing 100 lbs by the time we’re done. Hold onto your hats! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. cat elwell says:

    perfect timing, Erina,. My mandolin player brought me bags of radishes, leeks, and swiss chard from his garden. I’ve got the spinach, chives. Thanks for din din. kisses to that innocent new baby face

    • Erina says:

      Oh my goodness…it was meant to be! I’ll be eager to hear what you think. It was delicious for dinner last night, although I must admit the leftovers needed a bit more parmesan to be perked back up. Little Lou is sweet as they come. Hope you get to meet her sometime soon!

  4. I have serious dog envy! I’ll trade you some of those cherry chocolates you were eyeing? I love this post because it is exactly what your blog is about!

    • Erina says:

      Thanks lady! You definitely have to meet the puppy and The Duke. They are a pretty awesome pair. Excited to see you next week and for our margarita date!

  5. You are busy busy!! That little guy is so cute. I have a dog and if i would take care of puppies i would never let them go. . .

    • Erina says:

      Yeah…giving up the fosters is very hard…hence why we’ve now got one we’re keeping! Will I see you on Monday at Foodportunity?!

  6. Sounds like a winner recipe Erina. We love real carbonara but it’s a splurge. So great to meet you at BlogHer! That puppy is so cute, They are impossible to resist. We have a 7 month old Sheltie and he’s is almost through the chewing stage…except for chewing on my cats tail and ears…which that cat does not seem to mind too much if he is gentle!

    • Erina says:

      Thanks Sally! They are indeed the best aren’t they. Impossible to take yourself too seriously with a little imp of a pup around. So glad that you enjoyed Pike Place and found the great morel spot…hope to see you again soon!!

  7. Matt says:

    As one who generally scoffs at meat-free anything, I have to admit this is a great dish. Thank you, my dear sweet busy wife… and don’t worry about the laundry. I’ll just change my clothes less often.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    A pasta recipe AND cute puppy pictures? You have a new dedicated fan!

  9. Wow! Congratulations on the new puppy! That’s so exciting.

  10. if you need help at all with the puppy (or wine trips), you just let me know. 😉

    also, i love your pasta! veggie pastas are always so handy to make because they’re quick, refreshing and simple. especially when the vegetables come from your CSA. it doesn’t get much better than that 🙂

    thank you for taking the time to link up with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Blog Hop! We hope to see you again this Wednesday with more fantastic seasonal & real food posts 🙂 xo, kristy

  11. Sam says:

    Ooo…I’m always looking for a good veggie carbonara recipe. Thanks for sharing with the Fresh Foods Blog Hop!

  12. Erina says:

    So glad this sounds like it will fit the bill! Using really great eggs is key and gives it such an amazing and delicious flavor. If you make it I’d love to hear what you think!

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