Wednesday, May 18, 2016

From the Kitchens of Bunny and Brandy: Baked Carbonara with Monograno Pasta

Few know this, but Brandy's most favorite food away from the brunch table is actually pasta.  Presenting her with a plate of fettuccine or rigatoni is a sure fire way to win her heart.  "Pasta is just the perfect sort of canvas for which a chef to paint upon," as Brandy likes to say, "It can be rich and decedent, or light and fresh, depending on the sauces, meats, and veggies used.  There's not many ingredients that are so versatile."

Of course, pasta is not often seen at brunch, which does make Brandy melancholy at times, but recently when she discovered a new and exciting line of pasta from Monograno Felicetti, it sent her brain into over drive. The new line uses organically grown grains cultivated across regions such as Umbria and Puglia, where the land is ideally suited to produce flavorful grains that are then milled into incredibly flavorful, nutritious, and high quality pasta. The Monograno line of pasta represents the culmination of four years of testing of hundreds of ancient strains of wheat, farro and kamut, resulting in superior pasta that can be traced back to a specific organic field.

These pastas are so finely crafted that the different grains used actually create unique tasting experiences.  Pastas made with the Kamut release scents of white flowers and freshly peeled fruit while cooking, while tasting like pine and macadamia nuts.  The Farro pasta has a flavor like peanut butter and dates, perfect for pairing with red wines.  The Matt pasta is the most traditional of the ancient grains, giving off the scent of dried coconut and hay while tasting buttery and bread like.

Completely enamored with these pastas, Brandy set a quest for herself to complete a brunch themed pasta dish to honor them.  "Now let's see... pasta... with brunch... eggs... bacon... of course!"

And so the Baked Carbonara was born, using the Matt penne as it's canvas.  The buttery richness in the flavor of this particular pasta made it the ideal base for rich and smokey bacon and loads of cheese.  "Why have I never thought to do this before?" Brandy wondered after she'd finished her masterpiece, "From now on, I'm going to start adding pasta into all of my brunch dishes!  Just imagine how good a Benedict would be on top of linguine instead of an English muffin!"

Monograno Felicetti pastas are available for purchase on Amazon or at Eataly in Chicago.

The writers of this blog were sent products by the company free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Baked Carbonara

1 box of Monograno Matt Penne
1 side of bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
1 lb of asparagus, cup into 1 inch pieces
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 large eggs
1/2 cup of heavy cream

Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees. Slightly under cook the pasta in salted water, then drain and set aside to cool.

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crispy, then remove and drain, leaving about a table spoon of grease in the pan.  Add the garlic and asparagus to the pan and cook over medium low heat for about 7 minutes, then salt to taste and remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, and cream, then salt to taste (remember to account for the saltiness of the bacon).  Add in the pasta and stir to combine, then add in the bacon and asparagus and stir again until everything is distributed evenly.  Add the pasta mixture to a greased 9x9 pan and leave to bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the top begins to turn golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Serve hot, optionally topped with more Parmesan and/or a poached egg.  Makes 6-9 servings.

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