Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara

Given how much I love eggs, bacon and pasta, my love for a dish like spaghetti carbonara should sort of be a given. Can I let you in on a dirty little secret? Five years ago I spent two weeks in Italy and never had so much as a bite of the stuff. I can assure you, it was only because I so plump from gelato consumption that I couldn't bear to eat another carb-laden bite. How can you blame a girl...
Just can't fake gelato-induced happiness

When I began compiling recipes for Project Cookbook, Kathleen engaged me in a lengthy discussion about the nirvana that was spaghetti carbonara she had in Italy. Regardless of the fact that is complete proof of how hateful little sisters can be (why torture me so!), it did motive me to get this dish figured out.

Good news, people, it is as simple as it is delicious. So even if you're not jet-setting of to Italy any time soon, you can have what I imagine to be a reasonably acceptable substitute to the authentic version of the dish.

Spaghetti Carbonara
20 minutes
3 Servings

  • 1/3 lb. uncooked bacon
  • 5 oz. dry whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

  1. Dice the bacon and cook in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy (5-8 minutes). Strain bacon pieces out of the grease and dry on paper towels. Reserve 1 tbsp. of bacon grease and discard the rest.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta. When pasta is done, reserve a half cup of the cooking water, then drain and set aside.
  3. With the skillet still on medium heat, cook the garlic for one minute. Toss the spaghetti in the grease and garlic until pasta is coated.
  4. Remove skillet from heat. Add the eggs and two tablespoons of the reserved water and toss until spaghetti is coated. The sauce should be creamy and fully coat the pasta. Add additional water one tablespoon at a time if the sauce needs more liquid.
  5. Add the cooked bacon and grated parmesan and toss to combine.

Tips and Tricks:
  1. When discarding grease, do not pour directly down the drain. Use a container to place the grease in first, then discard in the trash. Small plastic containers (think yogurt containers) work perfectly.
  2. Be sure to break the spaghetti in half. It will make getting the food from your plate to your mouth via a utensil much easier (Cardinal rule of cooking, never complicate the food to mouth part). Even if you (like me) are outrageously skilled at perfectly twirled, long strands of spaghetti with a fork and spoon, the egg will throw off your groove entirely. Trust me on this one.
  3. When you add the eggs, use a spatula to keep the egg from sticking to the skillet. Move the pasta quickly to fully coat it without overcooking the eggs. The eggs should be cooked, but still moist when the bacon and cheese are added in.
  4. Serve with veggies on the side, or add in 1 cup of peas (thawed frozen are fine) when you add in the bacon and cheese. (Just add the peas. You’ll be terribly happy you did.)


  1. oh hi, em. methinks i will make this soon. because bacon (in small doses like this one) is officially part of my life now. would you judge me if i used different pasta? spaghetti is yucky to me. ok, that's all....short bus fattie love!

  2. does linguine or fettucini repel you in a similar manner? Any kind of stringy pasty will work just fine.

    Check out this page with (more or less) every pasta known to man:

    Any of the Italians (and some of the Asian) from the long or ribbon cut and the recipe won't mind at all.