Kind-Of Carbonara with Mushrooms & Walnuts

I know a few people who aren’t keen on carbonara because of the raw egg component. This is a perfect recipe for those people, because it still has the rich, creamy sauce, salty scraps of pancetta, and lovely fresh parsley, but with the addition of mushrooms and walnuts to give an extra kick. I actually think I prefer this to a traditional carbonara, because it’s just slightly less rich. One final word – you may well be thinking ‘What the heck?’ about the walnuts, but I promise you, they really work. This suggestion comes from Pinterest (check out the Sal’s Kitchen board!), and all can do is implore you to give it a try.

100g tagliatelle or spaghetti
A medium-sized pot of crème fraiche
A double handful of mushrooms
About 100g of pancetta or lardons
A good handful of fresh parsley
A handful of walnuts
2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Dried rosemary
Parmesan, to serve

Serves 2, with some left over for lunch the next day.

Place a deep frying pan (or an ordinary saucepan, if you like) on a medium heat and get a generous knob of butter melting. Once you’ve got a lovely golden foam, add the pancetta and stir regularly as it starts to crisp up. Once the bacon has started to take on some colour, add the mushrooms and the peeled, chopped garlic, as well as a generous sprinkle of dried rosemary.

At this point, depending on the cooking instructions, you’ll probably need to boil some water and get your pasta started. Once the mushrooms have softened and a really good garlicky scent is rising from the pan, add several generous dollops of crème fraiche and stir it through (to start with, it’ll feel quite stiff, but it very quickly melts and forms a lovely creamy sauce – crème fraiche is a great shortcut for creating a pasta sauce). Grate in plenty of parmesan – or cheddar, if you’re really opposed to parmesan, as I know some people are – and season to taste.

Finally, when your pasta’s ready, drain and add it to the pan with the sauce (or the other way round, if it won’t fit)! Serve topped with a big handful of chopped fresh parsley and chopped walnuts, and extra parmesan for anyone who wants it, and wash it down with a glass of wine, to cut through the creaminess.