It’s hard to believe I’ve never posted a recipe for pasta carbonara before now. It has to be one of my top all time favorite pasta dishes. Often referred to as bacon and eggs pasta, it’s traditionally made with bacon or Pancetta, egg yolks whisked with pasta water and a hard cheese such as Parmesan or Romano. When I’m in a pinch for time it’s the perfect recipe because I always have bacon, eggs and cheese on hand. It’s also the perfect recipe to experiment with. I ‘ve found that a few additions to this basic recipe can take it to another level of goodness. My personal favorite is the addition of sun dried tomatoes. You can’t beat the taste of creamy pasta with bits of bacon and sun dried tomatoes. And if you like it spicy, add some red and black pepper. Today I seared shrimp and scallops with blackening seasoning to go on top of the pasta. Oh my gosh, it was so good!
Rinse and pat dry the shrimp and scallops. I am going to cook the shrimp first. Sprinkle both sides with the blackening seasoning. Drizzle olive oil in a pan, just enough to sear the shrimp. Let cook 2 – 3 minutes. As I lay them on the pan I just get the last one on and then it’s time to flip them over to cook on the other side. It takes very little time to sear these guys to perfection.
Once the shrimp has been turned, let cook 1 – 2 minutes more. They may not look exactly like traditional blackened shrimp but I always cook seafood on the side of caution. Cooked too long or too fast makes for a rubbery texture.
Just before the shrimp comes out of the pan melt 1 tablespoon of butter that has been cut up into small pieces. This will loosen some of the bits of spice from the bottom of the pan and taste so good. Remove shrimp to a warming plate. If you have a warm setting on your stove set your shrimp in the oven while you cook the scallops.
It took about 10 minutes in all to cook the 2 batches of shrimp and scallops. They go back into the oven to keep warm for a few more minutes. Cook the spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine or whatever type of pasta you like according to package directions.
Once the linguine is cooked, drain (saving at least 1/2 cup of pasta water) and place in the pan with the bacon, onion and sun dried tomatoes. Toss the pasta with tongs to mix the ingredients together. Whisk 3 egg yolks with either 1/2 cup of pasta water or heavy cream. I have always used reserved pasta water but today I tried the heavy cream.
Now add 3/4 to 1 cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. You can see how glossy the pasta is from the cream and egg yolk mixture. Add a pinch of blackening seasoning. Taste and if needed add salt and pepper.
1 – 1 1/2 pound large Shrimp and Scallops (mix or match)
Blackening Seasoning, recipe follows
Olive Oil to coat pan
2 tablespoons Butter
6 – 8 slices Bacon
1/2 Onion, diced small
1/2 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, soaked in water to reconstitute
1 pound Pasta, such as Spaghetti, Linguine or Fettuccini
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup Reserved Pasta Water or Heavy Cream
3/4 – 1 cup Parmesan or Romano Cheese, grated
2 Green Onions, sliced thin
Pinch of Blackening Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
Slice the bacon into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. When pan is hot add the bacon and separate pieces and spread evenly around the pan. Cook 6 – 7 minutes turning the bacon after 3 – 4 minutes. When bacon is crisp and browned, transfer to a warming plate lined with a paper towel.
In the same pan pour out any excess bacon grease leaving just enough to saute onions. Saute over medium heat just until soft and translucent, remove to a warming bowl and set aside.
Rinse and pat dry the shrimp and/or scallops. Sprinkle both sides with blackening seasoning. Heat a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Place the shrimp or scallops in a single layer around the pan. Let cook 2 – 4 minutes. The shrimp may cook a minute less depending on size. With the scallops check the bottom to see if they have a nice brown sear before turning them. Once turned, let cook an additional 1 – 3 minutes. With each batch, melt a tablespoon of butter in the pan just before transferring to a warming plate.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta. If you are not using heavy cream, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water to add to the egg yolks.
In the same skillet that you cooked the seafood in, add the bacon, onion and sun dried tomatoes. Add the pasta to the pan. Toss everything together with tongs. Whisk together the egg yolks and pasta water or heavy cream. Note that if the pasta water is hot, you will need to whisk a bit of water at a time to temper the eggs. Pour over the pasta and mix together. Sprinkle grated Parmesan or Romano cheese over top of the pasta using the tongs to toss it all together. Add a pinch of blackening seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve pasta topped with shrimp and scallops. Sprinkle with sliced green onions.
Makes approximately 6 – 8 servings
Blackening Seasoning (from Chef Paul Prudhomme)
1 tablespoon Sweet Paprika
2 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Cayenne
3/4 teaspoon White Pepper
3/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
Mix spices together. Keep any unused portion in airtight container.