Ree Drummond's Creamy Broccoli Carbonara Is Surprisingly Healthy
Here at EatingWell, we're not big on restrictive resolutions, drastic diets or cleanses. If you enjoy all things in moderation all year long, then January 1 can be just like the rest of the days: mostly well-balanced, colorful whole foods with some occasional treats mixed in (yes, carbs, cheese and chocolate are all on the menu!).
But we're all about extra motivation to eat healthfully, mix up our menu and reignite our kitchen excitement, so we followed along with mouths watering this weekend as several Food Network shows highlighted health-minded recipes to kick off 2021. Yes, even comfort food casserole queen Ree Drummond.
The Pioneer Woman debuted an episode filmed from her ranch kitchen "Home Sweet Home: A Little Healthier," featuring lighter twists on popular dishes including General Tso's chicken, apple pie and peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies. (Hmm...has she been comparing notes with Snoop Dogg about those cookies?)
And after ditching keto and losing a pant size by exercising at home, Drummond is even with us on Team Carbs with one dish that immediately skyrocketed to the top of our must-make-ASAP list: Healthier Broccoli Carbonara.
Made with whole-wheat spaghetti to crank up the fiber and loaded with ¾ cup of antioxidant-rich broccoli per serving, this is one Italian-inspired entrée we'd feel great about diving into every week. It's a breeze to make in 30 minutes, too.
Start by boiling the pasta, and during the last 2 minutes before the noodles are al dente, add the broccoli to the pot. As that simmers away, sauté the pancetta in a skillet.
"It's like Italian bacon and it's sooo flavorful," Drummond explains. "If you don't have pancetta, you can use regular bacon."
Once the meat is crispy, drain most of the fat out of the skillet, toss in some minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, grated Parmesan, salt and black pepper—classic carbonara components—and set this aside. Reserve some of the pasta water, drain the rest and pour the cooked spaghetti and broccoli to the skillet with the garlicky pancetta. Stir ¼ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water into the egg mixture.
"I'm tempering it by gradually adding hot water and that way, when this hits the pasta it doesn't shock and turn into scrambled eggs," Drummond says.
Turn off the heat under the skillet, pour the egg mixture over the pasta and quickly toss it all together to incorporate. If the sauce is feeling a little thick, add a splash more of the reserved water. Garnish with more grated Parm and black pepper, if desired, and grab a fork!
"I love life, I love carbonara," Drummond exclaims as she puts the finishing touches on the dish.
If you, too, want to try Drummond's easy pasta recipe, get the Healthier Broccoli Carbonara recipe here. Pair a serving with a side salad and a glass from one of these $15 or less bottles of wine and you have a dinner that's the epitome of the 80/20 lifestyle and certainly aces our resolution: Live even more deliciously in 2021.