Here’s a family favorite for you. Growing up, this was my go-to birthday dinner – only now, years later, I’ve learned to adapt the recipe to make it veg-friendly. It’s not a light, summery pasta by any stretch of the imagination. It’s moderately heavy and extremely flavorful.
In my travels, I regularly order it just to see how it stacks up against momma’s. So far, my mom wins every time. In Italy, it’s usually even egg-ier than the recipe here, but they typically use a lighter meat (prosciutto instead of bacon, usually). So, experiment. Try more eggs, less eggs, more parm, more bacon (or veggie bacon) – that’s what cooking is all about. This is my favorite carbonara recipe, but it certainly doesn’t have to be yours.
Here’s what you need:
- 1lb box of spaghetti
- 8 slices of vegetarian bacon (in most grocery stores, it’s in the produce section next to other vegan-meats)
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 medium sized onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- A few dashes of your favorite Italian seasoning (or just some basil)
- A few dashes of salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- One pot
- One pan
Here’s what to do:
Step 1) Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the box. Most spaghetti takes roughly 10 minutes in boiling water.
Step 2) Cut 8 strips of vegetarian bacon (or regular bacon) into roughly 1″ x 1″ squares. Mince the onions and garlic and toss all three into a lightly-oiled pan on medium heat. Keep it moving to make sure everything cooks evenly. It usually takes about 8-10 minutes to cook the veggie bacon, so I usually start it right around the time I start the spaghetti boiling.
Step 3) While the pasta is cooking and the bacon is frying, crack four eggs into a bowl and whisk. Mix in a few shakes of salt and a few shakes of pepper, as well as your choice of Italian seasoning (this pasta has plenty of flavor without the greens – so no need to overdo it). Set this bowl aside. Measure out 3/4 of a cup of grated parmesan cheese and set aside.
Step 4) At this point, it’s pretty important to move quickly in order for this to work. When the pasta is done, pour the pasta through a strainer and then quickly return to the empty pot. Add the onions, garlic, and bacon to the mixture and quickly mix into the pasta.
Step 5) Now get ready! Have a big stirring utensil in hand (a wooden spoon, etc.) With the other hand, slowly pour the seasoned egg mixture into the pasta. Keep the pasta moving! The heat from the pasta, bacon, and pot will cook the egg onto the pasta. But if you don’t keep it moving, the egg will drain to the bottom of the pot and you’ll end up with a layer of scrambled eggs (not good).
Step 6) Mix in the parmesan cheese, and keep stirring until it seems uniformly distributed. Plate and garnish with parsley, if you’ve got it around.
Step 7) Eat.
I have a soft-spot for leftover spaghetti carbonara. The texture changes a bit, but almost for the better. If you do have leftovers, I’d suggest tossing it with some olive oil before putting it in the fridge, and it will be a lot less sticky the next time around (this works for other pastas as well).