Creamy Avocado Carbonara

A while back I shared with you a recipe for Bacon Avocado Rolls. Flaky and delicious, these croissant rolls are stuffed with crispy bacon and a scoop of fresh avocado. They’re then baked in the oven, and served hot, ideally with some juice and a sunny side up egg. I’ve made them a dozen times, but since my last blog post, there’s been an alarming development. Turns out, some people have a strong distaste for hot avocado. This hot avocado loathing was news to me, but apparently it’s a thing, like how some people simply can’t stand coriander, or fathom why you would serve a pot of tea without milk. The Huffington Post has even weighed in on the debate, which apparently has been going on for some time. Intrigued, I asked a few friends what they thought, and the results were mixed. . .

There are very few foods that can’t be improved with a hit of heat. Four in fact. Cucumber, Lettuce, Mango and that queen of green, avocado. Deliciousness is about creating tension on the tongue. Creamy gelato and crunchy cone. Hot curry and cool raita. Sweet cookie and bitter chocolate. That’s what makes the avocado so damn appealing. It’s cool creaminess makes the perfect antidote to the hot, the sour, the crunchy, the spicy, the sharp and the salty. Put an avocado under the heat and immediately you take it of its natural habitat. Like any dolphin at Sea World, it’s not surprising that it ends up brown, mushy, flavorless and sad. – Bex

Why on Earth would you cook an avocado? Some produce needs cooking (think: potato) and some creates whole new sensations when cooked (think: tomato). But the humble avocado’s cool, creamy deliciousness is perfect just as nature created it – and the perfect foil to so many dishes, hot and cold. But don’t take my word for it. The food-science bible, McGee On Food & Cooking, spells it out: “Heat generates a bitter compound and brings out an odd, eggy quality.” Cool and creamy vs. odd and eggy. You decide. – Robbie

OK, you hot avocado haters, this post is for you. I spent the weekend brainstorming a good, non-offensive cool avocado dish. What I came up with was simple yet filling, comforting but delicious, and above all else, cold – creamy avocado carbonara.

For this recipe you’ll need two avocados, two cloves of garlic, four cups of cooked spaghetti, a splash of cream, a pack of bacon, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste.

IMG_9280First, you’re going to want to cook your pasta. Put a pot of water on to boil, salt the water, and wait for it to bubble.

While you’re waiting, you can start cooking your bacon. Put a pan on the stovetop over a medium heat. Add a swig of olive oil, two peeled garlic cloves, and your pack of bacon. If you prefer, instead of the bacon you could always use good pancetta. This is a carbonara, after all.  Use a wooden spoon to knock the bacon around in the pan until it starts to brown. Crush the garlic with your spoon, so your bacon picks up a strong garlic essence as it cooks.IMG_9254Once your bacon is cooked, take it out of the pan and put it on a chopping board. Cut up the bacon and the garlic into small, bite-sized pieces.IMG_9292By now your water has probably boiled. Follow the instructions on your pasta box for cook time. If you’re making spaghetti like me, your pasta will probably need about 8-10 minutes in the pot. I always check my pasta regularly so it doesn’t end up over or under cooked. IMG_9308When your pasta is done, take it out, strain it, and put it in a big bowl. Now you’re going to want to make your avocado sauce. Scoop your avocado out into a big mug. Add 1/2 cup of cream into the mug along with the avocado.IMG_9297Use the back of a fork to mash your avocado and cream into a rich sauce. I used an immersion blender to speed up the process, but a strong whip with a fork should also do the trick. IMG_9304Next, add 1/2 a tablespoon of salt, a few good cracks of pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil to your sauce. Now you’re ready to mix everything together with your pasta. Start by adding the chopped bacon to your bowl of spaghetti.IMG_9312Next, add the avocado cream sauce.
IMG_9322Using two big spoons, toss everything together.IMG_9324Lastly, you’re going to want to grate your cheese to sprinkle on top. IMG_9326IMG_9333Give the pasta one final toss, and serve.IMG_9337IMG_9360BUT WAIT. There’s more! My recipes on Pressed Words tend to be fairly unhealthy. That’s because I really only have time to photograph food photos over the weekend, and my weekend meals tend to be slightly more indulgent. During the week I DO eat healthy. Salads for lunch, whole grains with dinner. Some eggs or fruit for breakfast. Monday through Friday I make an effort to eat healthy, where as weekends are typically reserved for cheese and fresh bread and wine and chocolate lava cake.

However, this Sunday, because I couldn’t stomach a full blown carbonara after an all-you-can-eat buffet (we went here the night before) I decided to tweak my  carbonara, to make it a bit more wholesome. So if you’re also looking for something a bit lighter, as this recipe already calls for cheese, bacon, and cream, here’s a nifty little tweak for you.

Meet my good friend Mr. Zucchini. IMG_9284He’s going to help us make a healthy version of the avocado carbonara.

Using a peeler, slice long, green ribbons from your zucchini. IMG_9287Keep going around and around until you’re down to the seeds and all sides of the zucchini has been peeled. Then, toss your ribbons into a frying pan with a spritz of olive oil, and cook over a medium heat for about 6 minutes. The ribbons should be soft but still a bit crunchy. Now, pretend your zucchini pasta is regular pasta. As you did with the spaghetti, transfer to a bowl and add the bacon.IMG_9371The the avocado sauce and the cheese.IMG_9375Ta-da! Now you have a lovely, slightly modified avocado carbonara that you can enjoy guilt-free. A his and hers, if you please ;)

Serve with some extra cheese and olive oil on the side. And a refreshing glass of wine (it is the weekend. after all!)!

IMG_9378Now, before I go, I wanted to tell you that there were some hot-avocado lovers out there, like Emily. . .

Hot avocado? Sure I was skeptical. The two best things about avocados are their creaminess and their freshness. I love the cooless of avocados on a spicy fajita, or a tangy salad – they have the potential to neutralize acid, add cream without heaviness, add flavour without overpowering – avocados: the miracle fruit. Add heat, and you risk losing that freshness…can you imagine a hot cucumber? None of the crisp, clean, brightness left – that was my worry with hot avocado. Nevertheless, I’ll eat anything with bacon on it, so I made Ali’s rolls. I was worried they’d be a bit dry in the middle, so I mashed the avocado and added a little crème fraiche and a dash of Ranch dressing mix (hard to find outside the US – you can substitute this with a little onion powder, garlic powder, dried parsley, salt and pepper,) which made a creamy paste which worked well with the crispy bacon. And the result? Surprisingly, avocado tastes EXACTLY the same when it’s hot as when it’s not. It’s also resilient enough to retain its consistency, which means, as much as there are those among us who are resistant to the idea of a hot avocado, you really have no argument. I’ll admit, heat doesn’t add anything particularly spectacular to them, but it doesn’t detract from them, either. The avocado added as much creamy, savoury warmth to the salty, crispy bacon as it would have cold, although I think it was better, as it was wrapped in warm flaky pastry. So I’m sold on this hot avocado business – next stop, avocado soup? Hm . . .   -Emily

So, are you team hot avocado or team cold? If you’re team cold, I hope you enjoy the avocado carbonara. And if you’re team hot, well, I heard B put the carbonara in the microwave the next day, and . . .  I’ll leave that little discovery to you!

xo Ali

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6 thoughts on “Creamy Avocado Carbonara

  1. I like avocado both ways. When it’s warm it gets a very soft, creamy texture that is fantastic with some dishes. I had a Doria the other day with crab and cubed avocado in it, it was amazing.

    (Doria is a Japanese hot pot that has risotto, cheese and toppings in one pot that is served in a caste iron pot over heat.)

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