The next focus on frugal, cost-effective delicious meals is moving toward a celebration of pasta.
This first dish will focus on spaghetti and two versions utilizing wonderful string pasta loaded with fresh flavor right from your fridge and pantry.
Rome is reported to be the birthplace of spaghetti, at least according to the Romans, and the two variations such as spaghetti alla carbonara and spaghetti all'amatriciana are equally rich in flavor and color. I prefer whole wheat or multi-grain pasta, but to make these recipes authentic you will need to use the traditional white pasta variety. I also prefer to grate my own cheese. You can substitute aged Gouda or some variations of sheep's milk cheese if you desire a more unique flavor. My variation does add some fresh oregano, but you can leave it out if you wish.
These dishes go very well with a fresh, tossed, Greek or Caesar salad.
Add in a few pieces of crusty artisan bread with creamery butter and a nice glass of your favorite red wine.
— Scott C. Anderson is associate food service director and chef with Shepherd University dining services in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Chef Ambassador to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Spaghetti alla carbonara
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 ounces country bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 teaspoon fresh, chopped oregano
Coarse sea salt and ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
4 ounces fresh, shredded Romano cheese
4 ounces fresh, grated Parmesan
In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced bacon, sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, then add garlic. Continue sautéing until bacon is crisp and garlic is nicely browned. Remove the garlic and turn stove to low heat.
While cooking bacon, bring a gallon of salted water to boil in a separate pot. You do not need to add in oil, simply have 3 to 4 parts water to 1 part pasta to allow proper cooking. Cook spaghetti until al dente (firm to the tooth), pull from water, drain well. Add spaghetti to the bacon and garlic, bring back to medium heat and stir together.
Turn off heat and add oregano, a liberal pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, eggs and 2 ounces of each cheese.