Tidy Carbonara with Chicken Meatballs
About this time last year, I shared a recipe for Baked Meatballs with Penne in Arrabiata Sauce. It's become one of my firm favourites, but when I was presented with some Chicken Meatballs in a recent Musclefood order, I wondered if I could do anything a bit differently.
I'd have to agree with any accusations that a lot of my recipes are on the spicy side, and I also have a tendency towards tomato-based sauces, so I thought that a Carbonara would fit well, and might also make a nice change to the blog.
Lo and behold, Slimming World's Little Book of Sauces contained a Carbonara sauce, so this week's recipe is my (very similar) take on that.
Read on, for a healthy take on the Italian classic!
1 pack of fresh extra-lean chicken meatballs
200g of dried penne pasta
2tbsp of grated parmesan
4tbsp of quark
7tbsp of semi-skimmed milk
2tbsp of chives (I used fresh, finely chopped)
1 onion, finely diced
4 spring onions, diagonally sliced quite thickly
2 peeled cloves of garlic, sliced
4 slices of ham, cut into ribbons or squares
This should easily serve two people - however, I used all the sauce with half the pasta and half the meatballs just for myself, as I like quite a lot of sauce to my pasta.
- Cook the meatballs however you fancy. I baked mine in the oven.
- Combine the cheese, quark, milk, egg, and chives together in a bowl and season well.
- Put your pasta on to boil.
- In a colander above the pasta, steam the onions and spring onions.
- While the pasta and onions are doing their thing, gently fry the ham and garlic in a saucepan, over a medium heat. About two or three minutes should do it.
- Add the cheese and egg mixture into the saucepan, along with the onions. Turn down the heat, and stir continuously. I cannot emphasise this enough. On my first attempt, the sauce split and the egg scrambled. Although it was still tasty, it was definitely not pretty!
- After a minute or two, the sauce should start to thicken, and your pasta should be ready. Take the sauce off the heat and drain the pasta.
- Stir the sauce through the pasta, and serve with the meatballs and a naughty extra sprinkle of Parmesan on top.
It's a shock win for Sainsbury's! Has that ever happened before? I could check, but I'm lazy. In any event, their £10.61 saw them fend off all comers.
It was close for second, with ASDA's £10.92 just pipping Tesco's £10.98.
Morrisons came last with a very lazy £12.25!
Disclaimer: None of the retailers sold Chicken Meatballs, so I've included them at the Musclefood price of £3.50.
The original Slimming World recipe used baby leeks instead of the spring onions - I couldn't get any, so tweaked, as is my wont.
I used Penne because that's what I had - use whatever your favourite shape of pasta is. Tagliatelle or Spaghetti seem to be the norm.
The chicken meatballs were a little on the dry side - maybe I could've panfried, microwaved or steamed. Any suggestions? An easy solution would be to hold back a little of the sauce from the pasta, just to drizzle over the top.
You could also make your own meatballs, and the ones from Meatballs in a Sweet, Sour, and Spicy Tomato Sauce may hold up well here. Maybe try a pork/turkey mix rather than lamb/beef.
Instead of meatballs, just some sliced chicken breast could be nice on top, or some gammon for a sweet and salty compliment to the sauce. Some would argue that there's enough meat in there already.
Bacon rather than ham could be quite nice, to give that little bit more depth to the sauce, though I do have to stress I was aiming for subtlety here, and I got it. Some lardons or pancetta would've been delicious, but would also have made for a very different taste profile. Most of the flavour came from the onions and spring onions (though they were in no way overpowering). It was a refreshing change.
A few peas wouldn't have done any harm in the sauce either, and if I wasn't being healthy I'd probably have ladled in a lot more cheese, and maybe swapped the quark and milk for double cream.
This is almost a straight take on the Slimming World one from their Little Book of Sauces.