I know, I know. I can hear you whispering the “f” word when I say that Carbonara should be on your regular dinner rotation. Yes, it’s true. Bacon, cream, butter, egg and Parmesan – they all add up to one big fat party. And that’s exactly what I love about them – so much flavor! What I also love about Carbonara, it consists of pretty basic ingredients that most of us keep in our refrigerator. And best of all they go together quite quickly in a dinner you can have on the table in less than 25 minutes.
This shindig is a little different as I have modified my traditional Carbonara recipe and these few tweaks have this recipe landing on our dinner table fairly frequently. What changes have I made from my original 2011 Carbonara recipe (which sentimentally was one of my first blog posts)? There’s less cream, butter and Parmesan cheese. To make up for this I’ve added a little of the hot water from cooking the pasta which extends these ingredients to coat the noodles. It also tones down the richness, along with more fresh parsley. Switching out the traditional thicker fettucine noodle for a whole wheat spaghetti means less noodle and more sauce in each bite. It also makes me feel better nutritionally, although some would argue it really doesn’t make that big of a difference.
If you’re curious why I heat the cream, remove it from the heat and then whisk in the eggs and garlic, there’s two reasons. It slightly cooks the egg without the chance of curdling it through direct heat and it takes the raw taste off the garlic. Another thing I like to do is toss all the ingredients together in the warm pot the pasta has been cooking in. It saves you from washing another dish and it warms it all together.
An arugula salad tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar is my go to for serving with the Carbonara. It’s simple and the peppery arugula compliments the rich flavor of the carbonara.
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- ½ cup whipping cream *see note
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 12 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
- ½ cup pasta cooking water
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley (curly parsley can be used)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy; transfer to a paper towel to drain; set aside.
- In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil; immediately remove from heat (you don't want to cook the cream any longer than needed so it doesn't evaporate more liquid) and whisk in eggs, garlic and salt; set aside.
- Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water according to package directions. Before draining, scoop out ½ cup of the hot water the pasta has been cooking in and set aside. Drain spaghetti and return to the warm cooking pot. Add cream mixture, cheese, parsley, butter and red pepper flakes and start with ⅓ cup cooking liquid; toss gently with tongs to evenly distribute ingredients, adding remaining hot cooking water if needed to thin the sauce. Season with more salt, if needed, and pepper.