Budget recipe binder: Pasta carbonara
A classic dish, this is my go-to recipe when I want something quick and tasty for tea. Ready-made carbonara sauces are often full of saturated fat and salt, so it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to make your own. Plus, you can add or omit any ingredients you fancy – swap the spinach for sweetcorn, the pancetta for chicken pieces, or go all out and throw in the lot! Just remember to keep the heat low when you’re cooking the sauce or you’ll end up with something resembling scrambled eggs…
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Total cost: £3.36*
300g pasta (uncooked weight)
One large onion
130g bacon, chopped into small pieces
285g tinned mushrooms (drained)
380g tinned spinach (drained)
Two large eggs
300ml half fat crème fraîche
Salt and pepper
Sprinkle of dried tarragon
1. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the pasta.
2. Finely slice the onion, then chop the mushrooms and spinach (if not ready done).
3. Crack the eggs into a jug or bowl, add the crème fraîche, salt, pepper and tarragon, and whisk until smoothly combined.
4. Fry the onions in the oil until soft.
5. Add the pancetta and continue to fry for a few minutes.
6. Add the mushrooms and spinach and fry for about five minutes.
7. Reduce the heat. Pour in the egg mixture and stir continuously for five to ten minutes. If it starts to resemble scrambled eggs, turn down the heat, pronto!
8. Combine the pasta with the sauce and serve with a sprinkle of grated cheese on top if you fancy.
Buy your pasta in bulk, it’s cheaper.
Tinned veg is a winner – it costs less than fresh and you can keep it in the cupboard until you’re ready to make your carbonara. Remember, if there is some left over once you’ve opened the tin, transfer it to a plastic container, keep it in the fridge and eat it within two days.
*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing