Classic Carbonara // Not Without Salt

There is nothing groundbreaking about this pasta. You can Google “Carbonara” and come up with thousands (190,000 to be exact) of recipes so I hesitate to add yet another hit to the masses but I share it with you because this one gets repeated.

This Carbonara makes its way into our slim list of repeats because each bite brings us back to Rome where Gabe came to visit me while I was there as a student. In between gelato, wandering the cobbled streets, several glasses of house wine, him proposing to me, and more gelato, we shared this simple pasta.

It gets repeated because it rarely requires a trip to the grocery store. I adore dinners like that, don’t you?

Classic Carbonara // Not Without Salt Classic Carbonara // Not Without Salt

It’s easy to find a small hunk of Parmesan lingering in the cheese drawer and most likely close by there are a few strips of uncooked bacon leftover from the weekend. There are always eggs and some sort of slender noodle; spaghetti, spaghettini, fettuccine, bucatini. The refrigerator feels a bit naked without fresh herbs, especially as our winter days turn spring. So they are there too, usually in the form of parsley but chives do the job just as well. And black pepper, enough to tickle your nose.

It’s indulgence marks our time at the table helping me to settle into my seat, take a deep breath and appreciate the others who fill the seats next to mine. A hearty salad nearby helps this indulgence find its way into a semi-regular spot at our table.

The recipe for our classic Carbonara can be found on the Craftsy blog. Feel free to use use this as a base as I often do and add to it, in bulk, crisp roasted vegetables. In the winter, when root vegetables are at their best roasted, this becomes commonplace.  Currently I’d like to say, “see you later, root vegetables” so in its place I imagine frizzled asparagus or fresh peas would be lovely. In fact I know for a fact that peas add a perfect little pop of freshness here.

The method is simple but does require a nudge of confidence to trust that eggs, wisps of Parmesan and starchy pasta water will turn into a wonderfully creamy sauce that rivals its more complex cousin, Alfredo. Sizzled bacon and pasta (slender noodle of your choice) just shy of al dente settle into the eggs and Parmesan. As the heat of the pasta starts to soften the cheese and tempt the eggs into a sauce rather than a scramble, add a couple tilts of a small ladle filled with pasta water until the inevitable cheesy/egg clumps soften and gently cling to the noodles. Finish with lots of freshly cracked pepper, a bit more cheese and plenty fresh herbs.

All credit goes to the brilliance of the Italians for this dish. Even with the few little additions that may make their way into our pasta I still wouldn’t call it groundbreaking and yet it gets repeated and that right there, is reason enough to share the recipe. Here’s hoping you’ve found yourself a new repeat.

Classic Carbonara // Not Without Salt

Classic Carbonara

Find the recipe and step-by-step instructions here. 

29 Responses to “Classic Carbonara”

  1. Luz

    Carbonara is one of my favorite comfort meals and love tossing in a little arugula in there in the summer to punch it with its peppery flavor. I happen to currently have some asparagus on hand and have never heard the term frizzled. How does one go about frizzling asparagus? It sounds delicious!

  2. Laurel

    How funny, I literally just made this for dinner last night…for the first time. !!!! Dreadfully simple. I don’t know why I didn’t jump on the carbonara bandwagon sooner.

  3. Natasha | Ok, Last Bite.

    I don’t think I’ve had pasta carbonara for years, and this looks absolutely delectable. My boyfriend and I were talking a few days ago about what makes some Italian dishes so good, and I think it’s similar to what you write; uncomplicated recipes made from simple but meaningfully placed ingredients. Seems to be this carbonara to the T, yum!

  4. Sara @ Cake Over Steak

    Honestly, I’ve never made a true carbonara. What is wrong with me?! I should have a date night with my husband and a bottle of wine JUST for the sake of making this.

    • Haley Musial

      I’m right there with you! I’m totally guilty of going to my fav restaurant Superba Snack Bar down the road and getting it there because they put a sous vide egg on top… I could easily save myself $23. 😉

  5. Rachele

    After reading your book, I was hoping I’d find your take on this dish on your blog! Looks delicious.

  6. ines oliveira

    there are so many ‘wrong’ carbonara recipes around the web that it is refreshing to catch one that looks like “the real deal” 🙂 Plus it looks delicious!
    Have a nice weekend!

  7. Kelly

    beautiful writing! It has been a long time since I had this dish, but it will become our repeat too. Thanks!

  8. Boozy Epicure

    Carbonara is always on rotation at my house as well. When I’m making macarons or anything else egg-white heavy, carbonara is the perfect place to use those leftover yolks. Delicious every time.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      I know it’s a heated discussion but I haven’t seen that one! I’ll check it out. My carbonara that I enjoyed eating in Italy was without cream.

  9. joey @ 80 breakfasts

    I still remember when my mother first made classic carbonara (just eggs, bacon, and parmesan) when I was a child. I couldn’t get enough of it! To this day I love this simple dish…and there really is a bit of magic going on with the few ingredients being turned into such a gorgeous sauce. Love indeed!

  10. Layne

    I just made this for dinner and it was so delicious! Took me back to my first Christmas in Italy, when I was fresh and there to stay for two years. Thank you!

  11. Charlie

    Oh I love carbonara so much! I agree with the convenience of not having to the grocery store for this dish, you can’t beat it. I actually make my carbonara without using the pasta water. I’ve found that if you hit the hot pasta with a bit of parmesan cheese, toss quickly and quickly add the egg, the sauce avoids scrambled eggs and is a bit richer than when I add water. The recipe is on my website if you’re interested in checking it out. Thanks! – Charlie

  12. Haley Musial

    “A hearty salad nearby helps this indulgence find its way into a semi-regular spot at our table.” This sentence just sang to my soul… it’s nice to feel I’m not the only one who does this.

  13. Danielle @So Munch Love

    This looks so good. I haven’t had carbonara in forever! I used to work at an Italian restaurant in the kitchen and we would make each serving to order using a similar method to the one you use here (we would use only the egg yolks). It was so simple and yet soooo good. I’ll have to have this again soon. Thanks for the food porn!

  14. Yin and Yolk

    I make this on a bi-weekly basis because it is so delicious, yet simple to master. Thank you for the lovely photo inspirations!

  15. Angel_Twins

    Carbonara is our all time favorite food. Thanks for the recipe. It nice to try a new recipe.