Preconceived notions: we all have them. Maybe you think you don’t like pumpkin, when in fact you just don’t like the texture of pumpkin pie (and that’s the only pumpkin-y thing you’ve ever eaten – what a shame!) Perhaps you think American Jews don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (yup, heard that one this weekend.) I suppose it might apply to some, but none that I’ve ever met. Maybe you assume that at least half of the attendees at your 10-year high school reunion would have no idea who Cara MaidenName was nevermind Cara MaidenName MarriedName. Oh wait, that was me. And I was wrong.

Here are a couple others I was wrong about lately:

1) Carbonara. Probably due to the lack of a single drop of Italian blood in my veins, I always thought it was taboo. In other words, full of cream and butter and carbs. It was something I never thought to attempt, until I was faced with a bag of whole wheat pasta (more on that in a second) and some leftover smoked salmon, wanting something other than a tomato sauce or typical cream sauce. It turns out that carbonara doesn’t require cream or butter at all but rather just an egg and a bit of cream. That “cream” sauce? It’s protein, people. The dish can be further balanced out and bulked up with protein and veggies; in this case, smoked salmon and kale.

2) Whole wheat pasta. I see it falling into two categories: plain ol’ whole wheat pasta that tastes exactly like white, but boasts no nutritional superiority whatsoever, or bulked-up multigrain pasta which is in fact better for you, but has that faint hint of… cardboard. Whole wheat pasta with extra nutritious but with the smooth, rich taste and texture of egg noodles? I didn’t think it existed. That is, until Al Dente Pasta Company sent me some of their Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Flax.

You might remember me mentioning Al Dente in the past, for their line of low-carb pasta. I’ve been a fan for quite some time and most recently used it in my Shrimp Quesadilla Fettuccine. Keeping my carbs in check is still important to me, but so is balance and flavor, which is why I was happy to accept an offer to try out some of Al Dente’s other varieties (there are lots of ’em!)

This hearty pasta has the perfect weight and velvety texture to cling to the creamy sauce and stand up to the bulky protein and leafy greens in every satisfying bite. Needless to say, I won’t be looking at carbonara or whole wheat pasta the same way ever again.

Consider this post a sneak preview of what’s to come very soon – hint hint, you’ll be getting a chance to try out some Al Denta pasta yourself!

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Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Yield: 2 servings


4oz whole wheat pasta, such as Al Dente Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Flax
6 oz chopped kale leaves
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg
1 oz grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 oz smoked salmon, torn into small pieces
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente, adding the torn kale for the last 2 minutes. Drain pasta and kale, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook onion for 3 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic, red pepper, and lemon zest; cook for one minute more, stirring,

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water.

Add pasta and kale to the skillet with the onion mixture, and toss to heat through. Reduce heat to low. Add smoked salmon and pour in the egg-cheese mixture. Cooking, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until sauce thickens and coats pasta. Season to taste with black pepper. Serve hot.

Nutrition Facts:

Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 400.7
Total Fat 15.1 g
Saturated Fat 4.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.8 g
Cholesterol 126.2 mg
Sodium 582.7 mg
Potassium 277.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 48.0 g
Dietary Fiber 8.0 g
Sugars 1.1 g
Protein 25.9 g

Cara Lyons,

This recipe is shared at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays for 11/29/2011 at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

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