Pasta Carbonara is a delicious meal, but is often overlooked by vegetarians since it generally contains pancetta or bacon. Also, it contains raw eggs, which can cause salmonella fear.
Not to worry! Simply replace the meat with mushrooms, and use pasteurized eggs to avoid any salmonella. Pasteurized eggs can be difficult to find, but it’s quite easy to pasteurize eggs yourself. Instructions follow Mushroom Carbonara recipe.
NOTE: As Queen of Freeze, I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to remind you (some might say, ‘nag’) to freeze the unused egg whites for future use.
MUSHROOM CARBONARA – makes about 11 cups
- 1 lb orecchiette pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)
- 3 T olive oil
- 1½ lbs common white mushrooms, chopped into quarters
- 1/2 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped into quarters
- 2/3 cup chopped shallots (about 2 large)
- 1 T pressed garlic (about 10 cloves, depending on size)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 5 yolks, pasteurized
- 1 whole egg, pasteurized
- 1 – 1½ tsp ground black pepper, depending on preference
- 4 oz Pecorino-Romano, grated
- 2/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped
In a Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts of water and 2 T kosher salt to a full boil. Cook the pasta until it’s almost done – about 2 minutes less than package calls for (it will continue to soften). Place a bowl under a sieve and drain pasta, making sure to capture 2 cups of pasta water. (Pasta water is a great thickener.) Set this water aside – you’ll need it later.
Into the now empty Dutch oven place the olive oil and mushrooms. Over medium heat, briefly stir the mushrooms to cover with the oil. Then continue to cook, uncovered, WITHOUT further stirring for 5 minutes in order to draw out the liquid. After 5 minutes, begin stirring now and then until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms have browned – about 5 minutes. Add in shallots and garlic, cooking another few minutes – just before shallots begin to brown. Stir in the 1 tsp kosher salt, cooked pasta, and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Remove pot from heat source and let cool about 5 minutes. Separate the yolks from 5 of the eggs and beat these yolks together with the whole egg. As you’re beating the eggs, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the pasta water, stirring constantly – this will temper the eggs. Then slowly pour the eggs into the pasta mixture, stirring constantly. Stir in the pepper, Pecorino-Romano, and the parsley. Turn burner to very low and continue to stir in order to heat pasta for serving, taking care not to scramble the eggs. If mixture is too thick for your liking, loosen it up with remaining pasta water.
Note: I’ve watched many videos and read many sites about pasteurizing eggs. Plus, I’ve done it myself with no ill effects. HOWEVER, you should do your own research, just to be sure.
About 20 minutes before beginning, remove eggs from refrigerator to bring them to room temperature.
Have a bowl of ice water ready.
Place room temperature eggs (still in their shells) in a saucepan and cover with about 1″ of water.Heat saucepan until water reaches 140º Fahrenheit. Maintain 140º for 3 minutes for large eggs and 5 minutes for extra large eggs. (You’ll probably have to turn off burner all-together to maintain the temperature.) Remove pan from heat source and immediately remove eggs to the ice bath for about 5 minutes. This will stop the cooking process.Remove eggs from ice water and refrigerate until needed. Make sure you mark them somehow so they don’t get confused with unpasteurized eggs.
You may notice the whites have become slightly cloudy – this is fine. Also, beating the whites into a meringue may take longer, although I haven’t had any problem with this.