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Courgette carbonara with wholewheat spaghetti

We had this for lunch last week. We had some cream in and it needed to be used. I’m a real cream sauce kind of a girl, but it has to have depth. Nothing worse than a cream sauce that just tastes of cream. When we were growing up, we used to eat out at an old fashioned Italian restaurant called San Remo and me and my mum always used to order a big bowl of creamy carbonara. A carbonara sauce is a glorious thing, when done well – it can be terrible though. I recommend the River Cafe version of a classic carbonara.

But before you go off and do that, do this! This is a little veggie version. (But feel free to add lardons of pancetta, get them all crispy, before you grate in the courgette.) The depth of flavour comes from the garlic, and also using plenty of parmesan. The sauce is rich with egg yolks, too.

Grating courgette is a genius way to introduce them into pasta. My friend got me into it. Kids don’t even notice them in there, so they slurp up all the pasta whilst, unbeknownst to them, eating green veggies at the same time. Score! Wholewheat pasta works well here, and in my experience kids never know the difference. Double score!

The sauce is made in the same time as the pasta boils, which is an absolute TRIPLE score in my opinion.

Makes: enough for 3 adults (or 2 adults and 2 kids)
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 13 minutes

2 courgettes, grated
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
250ml double cream
100g parmesan, grated
3 egg yolks
300g wholewheat spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

More parmesan to serve


  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add salt. Tip in pasta and cook till al dente. Drain – but reserve some pasta cooking water in a mug. 
  2. Grate the courgettes and, using a clean tea towel, tip the courgettes onto it, then squeeze to take out extra water. 
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Gently soften the crushed garlic for a few minutes. Don’t let it brown. 
  4. Add the grated courgette and cook that too, without colouring. It won’t take long at all. 5 minutes should do it. You can take it off the heat when you think it’s done. 
  5. In a mixing jug, add the yolks (you could use the whites for meringues or an egg white omelette), and mix the cream and parmesan. You’re not going to cook this sauce – it ‘cooks’ on the hot pasta. 
  6. Tip the courgette and garlic mix into the cooked and drained pasta, and add the cream/cheese/egg mixture. Using tongs or similar, toss the pasta, combining it well. Season. Toss again. Use a little pasta water, just a small splash, to prevent the creamy sauce going claggy. Let the pasta sit, maybe with the heat on very low, whilst you keep tossing – the sauce needs to soak into the pasta and takes a few minutes. 
  7. Serve with lots of black pepper and more parmesan. I cut my kids’ spaghetti up with scissors to make it easier to eat. 

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