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?
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.