‘One pot wonders’

The concept is superb, a ‘one pot wonder’ that can feed and satisfy a table of friends and family with minimum fuss, limited stress and still taste delicious. Of course it exists and can come in all manner of ways. So in an attempt to embrace the arrival of autumn, I have decided to write a number of posts with the ‘one pot wonder’ dish in mind. The first one I want to introduce you to still sings of summer so no need to huddle around the hearth quite yet. This is a pasta dish which may seem a bit of a ‘cop out’ for some, but believe me, it is certainly worth trying. It is a straightforward carbonara but with the added addition of courgettes and thyme, that transform this rather simple Italian staple into a refreshingly interesting lunch, teamed with  a fresh fig and raddichio salad with toasted hazelnuts it is the perfect combination to advent the arrival of shorter days and seasonal produce.

Mr.P is rather territorial when it comes to Saturday lunch and the cooking of pasta in general. It really is his domain, which though astonishing to some, is incredibly spoiling to the lucky recipients of his hard work. In this dish I have the supreme responsibility of growing the courgettes, which most years is no problem, assuming you can be patient and not plant the seedlings out too early and hang on in there to beyond the last frost, in theory they just get on with it and grow, and grow they usually do, doubling, tripling in size and producing what seems like an endless supply of tender courgettes with their wickedly bright yellow flowers. This year has been strange and we have not had the usual glut that we normally do which is just weird, but I think the kitchen garden had been a bit of a sad story in general.

Glut or glutless, if there are no courgettes in your garden, at least they are readily available at any vegetable shop. The real joy of growing your own, is that this recipe has a home for those beautiful, intricate flowers that otherwise end up being stuffed (really has anyone the time) or worse still end upon the compost heap! Back to the kitchen and Mr.P, so I am the courgette grower and thyme picker, Miss.L (the diligent and pretty grown up one) is always primed with grating Parmesan. This has been her responsibility for years and one she takes seriously – woe betide anyone who pinches her job. And job it is, as we get through several tonnes of the stuff every year! Mr.P is good at delegating so everyone gets involved, particularly on a lunch like this, making the whole eating occasion a rather entertaining family affair. We have had this pasta dish twice in the last 2 weeks, firstly in Puglia for 10 hungry mouths and laterly in the Isle of Wight. I can vouch for it very confidently – it is a crowd pleaser every time. After all who can resist carbonara, with the awesome addition of melting courgettes, thyme, lots of freshly ground black pepper and importantly those pretty flowers! It is rich, unctuous, intense, everything your Doctor tells you not to eat, heart attack heaven!

Courgette and Thyme Carbonara

Serves 4


Maldon sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
4 medium green and yellow (if available) courgettes, cut into 1/2 inch batons
400 g penne
4 medium free range egg yolks
100mls of double cream
4 to 5 good handfuls of freshly grated parmesan
10 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
3 tablespoons of fresh thyme
Finely sliced courgette flowers
How To Cook It:
1. Put a large pan of water on to boil with a teaspoon of salt.
2. Cut up the bacon and fry in a little olive oil in a good large non stick frying pan, once the bacon has begun to cook, add the courgette batons, a good long twist of black pepper and fresh thyme. Regularly turn the courgette and bacon mixture so everything takes on gorgeous golden color and the courgettes start to soften and caramelise.
3. When the water is boiling, pour in the penne and stir several times with a wooden spoon, time exactly so the pasta is cooked al dente, drain the pasta, reserving 200ml of pasta cooking water.
4. To make the creamy carbonara sauce, mix the egg yolks, cream and parmesan in a separate bowl.
5. Return the drained pasta to the large frying pan (which has just been taken off the heat) with the bacon and courgettes, add the carbonara sauce and a little of the pasta water, stir to coat all the penne, add a little more pasta water to create a silky smooth sauce. Do not put back on the heat as it will scramble the eggs, if you do, be VERY careful and watch it like a hawk, just occasionally it needs a little more heat and umph.
6. Serve immediately on hot plates with freshly grated parmesan, lots more  ground black pepper, the finely sliced courgette flowers, and some fresh thyme on top.
Serve alongside  a ‘Fresh fig and Radicchio Salad’, scattered with toasted hazelnuts and drizzled with olive oil and white balsamic condiment.
When to eat it, now or anytime of year for that matter. It is quick to prepare and makes a good weekend lunch for friends or a perfect mid-week dinner.

About lardersaga

Joanna Preston is mother of the 'little people', 1 pink and 1 blue, and wife to saintly Mr.Patience! After a decade dedicated to cooking for others (Alps, Africa and founding 'Sugar & Spice') my attention is now solely in the home kitchen. We are a food obsessed family that adore growing, sourcing and cooking delectable feasts for friends and family!
This entry was posted in One Pot Wonders, Vivacious vegetables and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to ‘One pot wonders’

  1. bee says:

    Delicious! This is just what I need: ideas for family cooking (ideally in one pot!). Thank you Joanna! Another great post….

    • lardersaga says:

      Written in your honour my friend. Fear not – there are more substantial, meatier ones to come – Sardinian Fish Stew for one, Vennison and Chestnut Casserole, and a breathtaking Duck Ragu!! x

      • bee says:

        Just ordered some Venison from Riverford Organic yesterday…will keep an eye out for your meat casseroles receipes! Many thanks!

  2. Sabina says:

    Only yesterday was I wondering what else I could do with all these wonderful flowers and tonnes of courgettes. Going to try this for Mr S’s supper tonight. Thank you so much!

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