This recipe from Jamie Oliver is a win-win at our home since my husband loves bacon, I love zucchini and we both enjoy pasta. Right now, I have also have lots of thyme on my hands :)
If you are craving some summer comfort food, I highly recommend this pasta!
Zucchini CarbonaraAdapted from Jamie Oliver
As much as I love Jamie's show and cooking, I tried to make this recipe a little easier to follow rather than using a 'fistful' of this and a 'knob' of that.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium green zucchini (or 4-6 baby zucchini as I used)
1 Box uncooked penne pasta (some of cooking water saved!)
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
Approximately 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
5 thick slices of pancetta, or good thick bacon, cut into strips to match size of penne
Small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves stripped (dried thyme is okay but fresh will taste much better)
Zucchini flowers if you have them
Heat a large pan of salted water to boil. Halve zucchini length-ways. Discard any soft middle parts if zucchini are large and slice the zucchini at an angle into pieces about the same size and shape as the penne. Baby zucchinis can simply be halved and sliced. Add the penne to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions.
To make the carbonara sauce, put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the cream and half the Parmesan, and blend with a fork. Season lightly and put in refrigerator until ready to use.
Heat a very large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and fry the pancetta or bacon until dark brown and crisp. Add the zucchini slices and 2 teaspoons of black pepper. You want this to have a kick. Add the thyme leaves and stir, so the zucchini are coated with all the bacon-flavored oil, and fry until they start to turn golden and soften just slightly.
This next step is very important as you need to work quickly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a good ladle-ful or two of the cooking water. Immediately, add the pasta to pan with the zucchini and pancetta, then remove from the pan from the heat and add the ladle-ful of the reserved cooking water and the egg/cream sauce. Stir together quickly. Do not return to the heat or you'll get scrambled eggs. The hot pasta water and the heat of the other ingredients will cook the egg sufficiently. If you are concerned about this part, you can also use pasteurized eggs.
Serve immediately with the rest of the Parmesan and a little more of the cooking water if needed, to give a silky and shiny sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings. If you have any zucchini flowers, tear them over the top, then serve and eat immediately.