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Joni Woolf: A simple spaghetti carbonara anyone can make

While clearing the porch and deck of furniture, in preparation for the storm that is to come, I have been thinking of an excellent spaghetti carbonara I enjoyed last week in Atlanta. I had gone to the city to welcome my first great-grandchild —a girl — and was taken to a lovely Italian restaurant by my brother-in-law and niece. I enjoy all foods Italian, and decided on the spaghetti carbonara. It was fine — really delicious. With warm bread and a generous glass of red wine, a perfect meal resulted.
Now here I am as the hurricane hits the Florida Panhandle, trying to conjure a story before the anticipated power failure. (Where we live, we can count on it: there are too many trees on every stretch of land and in our yards. One will fall on a power line, and we’ll be out of touch with the world). In the meantime, the Americus Times-Recorder does what all good newspapers do: they keep printing, and meeting deadlines. I will try to do the same.
There are many delightful recipes for carbonara using fresh eggs, pancetta, various cheeses, and exotic greens. This recipe is tasty, but quite simple. The spaghetti is cooked in with the sauce. It can be made quickly and, accompanied by a fresh, green salad and a loaf of French or Italian bread (buttered, of course), it makes a complete meal.

Spaghetti Carbonara
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 ½ cups chicken broth
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Cook the bacon and shallot in a 6-quart saucepan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until the bacon is browned, stirring occasionally. Stir the soup, broth and ½ cup of cheese in the saucepan and heat to a boil. Stir in the spaghetti. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes or until the spaghetti is tender and the soup mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the peas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese just before serving.

This could not be easier. These are the kinds of ingredients we often have on hand, so the recipe can be put together with items that are already on the shelf. You may want to try a more complicated version next time, but for starters, this one does nicely. The following salad is a light and tasty accompaniment for the carbonara.

Mixed Greens with Dried Cranberries
2 tablespoons cranberry juice
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper or lemon pepper seasoning
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
8 cups mixed salad greens, torn into bite-size pieces
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
¼ cup sliced red onion
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup toasted slivered almonds
In a medium glass jar with a fitted lid, whisk cranberry juice, vinegar, mustard, pepper, and olive oil until well combined. Cover and set aside. In a large salad bowl, combine the greens, avocado, onion, cranberries, and almonds. Toss with desired amount of dressing and serve. (Dressing can be made several days ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

By the time you read this, the storm will have passed. But you may be without power. If so, get creative: go to your pantry shelves and see if there isn’t some combination of foods that you might turn into an interesting meal, and show forth your creative side!

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net