Dental Challenges

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Lisa Parsley
Sunday, August 8, 2010

I had a bit of a dental episode this week which threw a monkey wrench into my meal planning. I broke one of my back molars (apparently an important one) and am now the recipient of a temporary crown. It should be a real jewel encrusted one for the cost of it. I think my parent’s first house cost less than I presently owe my dentist.

I had a couple of days where chewing was a bit lopsided, so I was searching for soft things to eat. Lunch wasn’t a problem because I’m often a yogurt and a banana lunch person. But for dinner, I wanted something a bit more substantial. I thought of running to the library and perusing a copy of “Taste Tested Recipes from the Janesville Senior Center;” a cookbook which is a regular source for recipes printed in the paper. And where, (I have found from my faithful following of it), most of the recipes would cater to the “dentally challenged”!

But I decided to cast a wider net and realized that I had a wide variety of choices, from eggs to pasta to soup; any one of which would satisfy my desire for a home cooked meal eaten with only half baked teeth. But they all seem like “winter food” to me. I finally decided to make one of my favorite dishes of all time—Spaghetti carbonara. With the pasta cooked al dente and adding bacon, parmesan cheese and eggs, it is a dish easy on the teeth and the taste buds. I have about a dozen grape tomatoes ripe every day, so I threw some of them in as well. Not traditional, but still delicious.

If you or someone you know has dental issues, what’s your secret to getting good food? Share an idea or a recipe. Thanks!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Inspired by Mario Batali’s recipe in Molto Gusto

(His recipe didn’t have onions, and had a lot more fat.)

2 Tsp kosher salt

4 oz bacon or pancetta, cut into ½ inch wide strips

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

4 fresh large eggs

1 pound spaghetti

½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup grated Romano cheese

  1. Bring 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot and add the salt. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving 2/3 cup of the pasta water.

  2. Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, brown the bacon in a large pan until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and drain all but 1 Tbsp of bacon fat. Add the olive oil and the onions. Cook the onions until they are translucent, about 5-8 minutes, scraping up all of the bacon bits. Be careful not to burn them. Stir in the pepper and reserved bacon and turn off the heat.

  3. Separate the eggs and lightly whisk the whites and the yolks separately.

  4. Add the reserved pasta water to the pan with the bacon and onions. Heat to simmering and then add the egg whites, whisking constantly for about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the cooked pasta, stirring and tossing well to coat.

  5. Remove the pan from the burner and add the beaten yolks to the pasta, tossing continually to make a creamy sauce. Stir in the cheeses and serve.

Last updated: 10:45 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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