The last time I made linguine carbonara, I had lots of leftovers – not a surprise, given that I was making it just for myself. When I did research into how to handle the leftovers, the consensus seemed to be that when you re-heat it, the best thing to do is effectively turn the dish into something else. Because, with the raw eggs being so much a part of what gives carbonara its distinctive character, and the fact that re-heating will most likely cook the eggs, you are just not going to be able to re-heat the dish and still have something that is recognizable as carbonara.
Stubbornness being a family trait, I am convinced that they must be wrong, and there must be a way to warm up leftovers of carbonara and enjoy it again just as much as the first time, without messing up the yummy eggy sauce. The second part of the double challenge for me is the fact that I want to add cheese to my leftovers, specifically, Daiya Mozzarella Shreds, which need a good bit of heat to melt into a dish and give you that yummy cheesy gooey-ness to go with the yummy gooey egginess.
So that first time, when it came time to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, I focused on the cheese. I thought that if I melted the Daiya shreds, then I could add them to the cold carbonara, and they would warm it up sufficiently to make it a successful carbonara re-enactment. First, I tried microwaving some Daiya. Ouch, what a failure. All I got was a rubbery ball of cheese that was impossible to mix into the carbonara.
So then I tried melting some Daiya shreds in a double boiler. As the cheese got hot, it started getting softer but also began drying out, so I added some almond milk for moistures and it got somewhat gooey. The resulting melted cheese was still a bit rubbery, but pliable enough that I was able to mix it into the carbonara. Not bad, but not exactly what I had in mind.
This second time, I focused on the pasta as a conduit for melting the Daiya cheese. When I made the dish initially on Wednesday evening, using Emeril’s classic recipe, I used less pasta than the recipe calls for – instead of using a whole pound package, I used about 2/3 of a pound. The dish turned out great, although it was a bit on the saucy side. I ate half of that for my dinner, with Daiya shreds mixed in, and saved the other half of the carbonara for leftovers.
Then yesterday for dinner, I cooked the rest of the pound of linguine, drained it, put it back in the pot, added a tablespoon of olive oil, and then sprinkled a bunch of Daiya shreds on top.
Then I stirred it up, hoping the Daiya would melt well. And it did! First mission accomplished: Daiya shreds reduced to gooey-ness!
Hmmm, what about the second challenge, warming up the carbonara? Would there be enough heat left in the pasta/cheese mixture to warm it up, but hopefully not so much heat that the eggs would start to cook? Would there be enough sauce in the carbonara to mix it with the pasta and the whole dish to still have that great carbonara flavor? I added the leftover carbonara to the pasta and cheese and started stirring.
And then I dished up the resulting carbonara. Seeing that it looked a tad bit dry, I added some leftover stewed vegetables on the side to give my dinner a little bit more moisture.
How was it? Did I achieve my goal? Well, sort of. The carbonara mixed nicely with the freshly made linguine, and the eggs did not start to cook. But there wasn’t quite enough sauce for my taste. I mean, it tasted good. But a little on the bland side. I could’ve used more carbonara flavor. So for now I will give myself a grade of C+. And next time, maybe I will just make a half-portion so I can eat it all in one go, and not have to worry about leftovers.
Or, maybe I will listen to my lovely wife, who reminds me that carbonara light, i.e., less carbonara sauce to more pasta, is a good thing for our arteries! Stay tuned for future experiments in pasta!