Carbonara with Greens / by Yeesum Lo


There was once a spin-off site from called Gilt Taste. And amongst the selections of frozen crabcakes, lobster rolls, truffles and charcuterie, they wrote an excellent food blog, which got deleted when the whole food venture got shuttered

Whilst I tried many of the recipes posted there, the one dish that instantly became a mid-week go-to was the Carbonara with Greens - a simple spaghetti tossed with chopped kale and onions sauteed with fish sauce along with a creamy egg and parmesan sauce finish - it was decadent enough to be comforting and yet not too sinful to provoke guilt. 

Carbonara with Greens (originally by Gilt Taste)

1 small onion, cut into ¼” slices
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil / garlic olive oil
1 pound washed, young, tender collard greens or kale
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika 
Fish sauce or good soy sauce, to taste
12 ounces spaghetti (use spaghettini no. 3)
1-2 eggs (instead of the original 2-3 eggs, I actually use 1 egg and a spoonful of greek yoghurt)
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated (or more, to taste)
Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium-low heat and add the onion. Let it sweat slowly. You’re not really looking to caramelize it, just to soften it so its sweet oniony badness will meld with the greens later.

2. Meanwhile, strip the greens’ leaves from the stems. Taste a small piece of both the leaves and stem. If they’re tough, like chewing-on-leather tough, you’ll want to cut the greens quite fine and cook them longer. If they’re tender and sweet, then we’re really in business. Chop the stems into bits or tiny bits, depending on their tenderness, and add to the onions.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add enough salt so that it tastes almost like the sea. 

4. Stack the leaves together and roll up like a cigar. Slice the leaves into ribbons about ½” wide, or ¼” if they’re on the firmer side. In a bowl, beat together the eggs with the cheese, a pinch of salt, and plenty of black pepper.

5. Taste the greens stems in the pan – if they’re tough and kind of stringy, add some water and cover the pan to steam them until they behave. If they’re tender or just a little crunchy, you’re good. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the smoked paprika. Stir to spread it around, then add a few good, healthy shakes of fish sauce or soy sauce, which will give you saltiness and fantastic depth of flavor. Let the sauce sizzle off and stir in the leaves. Sauté, stirring, until the greens are tender but just a little chewy. Taste them and adjust seasoning with fish sauce, salt and / or sugar, smoked paprika. You want it to be slightly smoky, just a tiny bit sweet, and well seasoned but not-quite-salty. Turn off heat and reserve, covered.

6. Cook the pasta until al dente and drain, saving a cup of the cooking water. Reheat greens over medium heat, and toss in the pasta—really mix it up to incorporate the two. Off heat, add the egg mixture and stir like the dickens, letting the heat from the pasta thicken the eggs. Add a little of the cooking water to loosen things up and form a smooth sauce. Taste, adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, fish sauce, or cheese, and serve.