It is officially winter time and if the weather people are to be believed – yes, I know that that is a real leap of faith – snow and storms are heading our way regardless of what part of the country we live in. It is a times like these - with crisp frosts in the morning and our busy, disappearing days - that we need to come home to a meal filled with comfort and joy: and what better dish to serve than the creamy, indulgent delight that is Spaghetti Carbonara.
Now, let’s be honest, there is nothing less likely to be allergy friendly than the egg, cream and cheese rich Italian Carbonara. Equally, there is nothing more delicious than the velvety flavour of the Carbonara and, always keen for a challenge, I wanted to try my hand at creating an intolerance friendly version of this classic dish. I have, in previous years, spent time in Italy and so know at firsthand how truly wonderful this dish can be. Unlike many English variations true Carbonara is most often made with pancetta, parmesan and egg yolks (rather than cream) to create its salty, buttery sauce. I wanted to reproduce this medley of textures and flavours, but felt unwilling to veer too far from those original ingredients, and so after much experimentation, my allergy friendly version of this Italian classic evolved.
Here, the pine nuts are toasted until golden and then ground to a fine powder. I use them in combination with the oat cream to create the depth and bite that you would gain from using egg yolks and parmesan cheese; while the smoked pancetta and fresh parsley give a salty and clean balance of flavours. This dish is a real winter winner and will have you feeling cosy and warm before you’ve even taken your first bite of its luxuriant, mellow content – a real Christmas treat. As always, I cannot recommend enough the use of Oatly Oat Cream, it truly is a marvel and I am genuinely considering buying shares of the stuff out of sheer devotion!
350g/12oz gluten free spaghetti
2 fat cloves of garlic
1tbsp olive oil
150ml oat cream
50g/2oz pine nuts
½ tsp sea salt flakes
150g/6oz smoked pancetta
A small bunch of parsley
Preheat the oven to 180c (160c Fan) and place the pine nuts on a baking tray. Toast in the oven until golden brown and then leave to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, use a food processor to grind them to a fine breadcrumb consistency. In a bowl or jug combine the ground pine nuts with the oat cream and sea salt and beat together until a smooth liquid.
Cut the pancetta in to small pieces – approximately ½ cm in size - and peel and crush the garlic cloves. In a heavy based frying pan, heat the olive oil and then fry the smoked pancetta and garlic until golden and crispy.
Meanwhile, bring a large vat of water to the boil, add the spaghetti to the water and cook at a constant simmer for 10 minutes or until the spaghetti is al dente. While the spaghetti is cooking add the cream mixture to the pancetta and mix thoroughly, heat through gently so that the sauce becomes hot but is not boiling.
Once the spaghetti is cooked, return it to its pan, pour over the carbonara sauce and combine gently, ensuring that all the spaghetti is well coated. Serve hot, sprinkled with the chopped parsley and with a little freshly ground black pepper.