{recipe} Spaghetti Carbonara with Peas & How To Stock Your Kitchen BEFORE Vacation

March 3, 2011

Spaghetti Carbonara with Peas

We’re on Day 4. Still tan. No groceries.

Okay. I’m lying about being tan. I should be, but I’m a freak about sunscreen. I hate feeling sunburned. But I digress.

It’s been 4 days since we returned from vacation and I still haven’t found time to do a serious shop. I was able to pick up a few fresh veggies yesterday, but that was after I made this carbonara which was dinner on Day 2. My point? That this dinner can be made completely out of staples that can survive a week-long vacation. It also takes 30-minutes to make, is filling, totally delicious, and has veg thrown in.

And not just any veg. Veg plus bacon. Mmmm.

peas and bacon for carbonara

I’d say that this all adds up to a good dinner, even if you’re not just back from vacation.

But if you are about to leave home for a while, this dinner inspired a quick list of How To Stock Your Fridge BEFORE You Leave on Vacation:

Things that will keep in the FRIDGE for about a week:
* butter
* eggs
* unopened container of milk
* plain yogurt
* apples, pears and/or oranges (put them in the crisper to have a few pieces of fresh fruit until you can grocery shop)
* parmesan cheese
* your favorite sandwich cheese
* an avocado (it’s best to put one that’s just right in the fridge before you leave; it should be in good enough shape to last you a day or two when you return)
* an unopened package of smoked salmon

Things to have in your FREEZER:
* peas
* berries
* chicken stock (if you make your own)
* a loaf of sliced bread (transfer it to the fridge the day you return and it’ll be ready for toast and sammys the next day; you should also be able to defrost/toast a couple of slices the day you get home)
* bacon
* your favorite fresh herbs; washed, dried and chopped for convenience
* tomato sauce (if you make your own)

Things to have in your PANTRY:
* dried spaghetti
* olive oil
* garlic
* onions
* broth (if you don’t make homemade)
* rice and/or quinoa
* canned beans
* a jar of your favorite salsa
* a box of your favorite cereal and/or oatmeal
* honey and/or maple syrup
* a jar of your favorite tomato sauce

I’m sure there are plenty of other things you could have on hand, but this simple list can keep you fed for days. Think…

BREAKFAST: oatmeal, cereal, toast, french toast, eggs

LUNCH: avocado cheese sammy, bacon avocado sammy, rice or quinoa and beans, smoked salmon sammy

SNACK: fruit, smoothie, yogurt

DINNER: Pasta with Avocado and Bacon; Quinoa Huevos Rancheros; rice or quinoa and beans; herb frittata; Pasta with Onions, Bacon and Tomato or this Spaghetti Carbonara with Peas

Not bad, huh?

You can make so much more with just this list and there are many other items you can add or substitute on to my pantry list. What are your ideas?

Spaghetti Carbonara with Peas
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
serves 4-6

1 lb spaghetti
olive oil
4 strips thick cut bacon (or, even better, its equivalent in pancetta), cut into 1/4″ pieces
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 c peas
1/4 c wine or broth
1 large egg
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1. Put a large pot of salted water on medium-high heat (about 6 qts water to 2 tablespoons salt). Bring to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, saving about a cup of cooking water, and set pasta aside. (The reserved pasta water is only necessary if you’ll be sharing this with little kids — see the note below — or reheating the pasta.)

2. In the meantime, lightly coat the bottom of a wide saute pan with olive oil. Add bacon and cook until the pieces just begin to crisp at the edges. About half way through this process, add garlic slices.

3. Once bacon is crisped, add peas. Stir to coat them well, then add wine. Cook for a minute or two, until the wine cooks off. Take peas and bacon off heat and remove garlic.

4. In a bowl large enough in which you can toss the pasta, whisk together the egg and grated cheese. Add cooked and drained spaghetti (preferably still hot!) and toss to thoroughly coat pasta. Add peas and bacon, salt and pepper and toss some more. Serve immediately, topped with more grated cheese if you like.

*Note: There are a couple of ways that you can share this with beginner eaters. The simplest is to puree some cooked peas before you add them to the pasta. I’d take out the bits of bacon—the peas will have plenty of bacon flavor, there’s no need to feed your little one the extra salt and fat. You can also puree the peas with plain pasta (before it’s been coated with egg) and cheese. Again, skip the bacon bits.

If you choose to share the final dish with your little ones, I recommend putting their portions back on the heat to ensure that the egg cooks through completely. This is what I did for both the Hungry Baby (16 mos) and Hungry Boy (4yo). Just return their portions to the pan in which you cooked the peas, add some reserved pasta water and make sure to get the pasta thoroughly hot before serving.

3 Responses

  1. Miri Leigh says:

    Looks like a delicious recipe- thanks for posting!

  2. Rosie says:

    A good thorough list. The only thing I make sure is cleaned out of my fridge before leaving on a trip is the milk. I shop weekly at the farmer’s market and am pretty good about buying what I need for the week and even though I buy so much produce (because we eat so much of it) it rarely needs to be thrown out in advance. I find that most hardy winter type veggies will last in a crisper even for a week.

  3. One Hungry Mama says:

    Great points, Rosie. Yes, my local milk won’t last, even unopened. But since we always need milk ASAP (the baby still takes 1-2 bottles a day), I’ll buy a 1/2 gallon of one of the organic supermarket brands (eg, Stonyfield, Organic Valley) and let it sit unopened for a week. That way, we have something when we get home. Hearty winter veggies is a great thought. Gourds are a great option, too. They last and you’ll have squash when you get home!

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