Spring has officially sprung (hallelujah!), and we’ve got the fever. Tulips are popping up in our front yard, and we’re feeling all spring pea and baby spinach and Earth day-like. Do you feel it? (Perhaps not if you’re in the Southern hemisphere, or Minnesota, or reading this any month other than April.) In honor of the warmer weather and general feeling of valuing Mother Earth this month, we’ve got this vegetarian spaghetti carbonara and seven Earthsaving kitchen tips to start out April.
Peas always say spring to us, and while brainstorming recipes, I recalled a friend mentioning a meal of spaghetti and peas, with whole egg yolks stirred in at the table to make a creamy sauce. The concept intrigued me, sounding a bit like spaghetti carbonara without the bacon. We decided to develop a vegetarian spaghetti carbonara recipe, replacing the smokiness of the bacon with a smoked mozzarella for a background hint. Let’s be honest: this pasta does not have the endearing savoriness of bacon. But, the combination of the cheeses plus the creamy, complex flavor of the egg yolk stirred in as an instant sauce makes the pasta taste both springy and light and supremely satisfying.
Now, how many world savers do we have out there? Show of hands: how many of us have a deep burden to do something meaningful for the world? Alex and I joke that it’s the millennial’s burden, but I’d bet it’s more than just the young idealists who feel this pang. Our planet is one amazing place to live, and in order to make sure it’s taken care of for our children and children’s children, we’ve got to care for it properly. Let’s love our Earth well! Though doing so is an exceedingly complex task and much more than one of us can do alone, taking small, concrete steps can actually gradually start to make positive impact on the Earth. Here are a few tips related to cooking and using your kitchen that can help in starting to save the planet:
7 Earth-Saving Kitchen Tips
- Buy organic. Fruits and veggies labeled as organic are grown without using pesticides or fertilizers with synthetic ingredients and without irradiation, the seeds and transplants are chemical-free, and the fertilizer is natural. Organic practices foster cycling of resources, ecological balance, and biodiversity. Basically, this equals a happy planet. (And happy bodies too.)
- Don’t overbuy. Americans waste 30 to 40% of the food we buy. Planning meals carefully and only buying what you need reduces waste (and saves money!).
- Compost. Composting lets your kitchen scraps to be transformed into nutritious soil rather than rotting in landfills and releasing excess methane (gross). Turning your trash into food for your flowers and herbs is pretty darn fun; in fact, Alex is obsessed. If you’re interested in getting started, see this Composting 101 post by Alex.
- Carry reusable kitchen bags. Reusable kitchen bags cut down on disposable waste. As popular as they have become, plastic and paper are still fairly prevalent at the groceries we frequent. I keep two of these bags in my purse at all times!
- Use rags instead of paper towels. Our friend Ashley did some research and inspired us to use cloth rags multiple times instead of paper towels, which is environmentally friendly in the long run. We just bought a bunch of these cleaning rags and are enjoying them.
- Recycle. Duh. But actually, since it’s not always an intuitive process in every city, you may not have taken the steps to integrate it into your daily life. Here’s a friendly reminder! Also, remember to rinse or wipe out your containers of food waste prior to recycling; it typically helps with processing once the items arrive at the plant.
- Eat vegetables. It’s become widely accepted that eating more vegetables has less toll on the environment since it uses less resources overall than eating meat. This is actually the reason we started eating mostly vegetarian meals in the first place, and the reason we started this blog! (We read this fantastic, non-judgmental book.) So, make this vegetarian spaghetti carbonara and let the Earth-saving begin.
Consuming undercooked eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness. If you are uncomfortable serving egg yolks at the table, you can stir the egg yolks into the pasta in the skillet to heat them through. The smoked mozzarella in this recipe is reminiscent of the bacon traditionally used in carbonara; if you can’t find it, use traditional mozzarella or substitute Parmesan (using 1 cup Parmesan total).
- 1 pound spaghetti noodles
- ½ cup smoked mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup frozen Earthbound Farm Organic peas
- 8 cups spinach Earthbound Farm Organic leaves
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- In a large pot, combine 6 quarts of water with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and bring it to a boil.
- Grate the Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Carefully separate four egg yolks and set aside.
- Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until the pasta is just about al dente, about 7 minutes; then add peas and spinach and cook for 1 minute. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, and then drain the pasta and vegetables.
- In a skillet, melt the butter, then stir in the cheeses, ¼ cup pasta water, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Stir in the pasta and vegetables until creamy over low heat, adding more pasta water if necessary (note that the mozzarella will stick together in some places).
- To serve, top each pasta serving with a whole egg yolk and additional Parmesan cheese, and stir the yolk into the pasta at the table (if you are uncomfortable serving egg yolks at the table, stir the egg yolks into the pasta in the skillet to heat them through). Serve immediately. (Note that the mozzarella cheese can become gummy the longer the pasta sits, so eat immediately if possible. Leftovers can be reheated in a skillet, but may not have the same creamy texture.)
We developed this recipe for Earthbound Farm Organic; all opinions expressed are our own. Thank you for supporting the partners that keep A Couple Cooks in action!
**And to celebrate Earth Day, Earthbound Farms Organic is giving away 100 prizes, including a years worth of Earthbound Farms products; click here for more!