Pasta Carbonara – tried and true recipes

pasta carbonara bowl

I’m going back to some basics this week.  I’ve exhausted myself on trying something new nearly every single day for two months.  Time for some repeats!  I have made some form of pasta carbonara on a regular basis since Matt and I were first married, 8 years ago.  Carbonara is one of those dishes that you can nearly always make, even when you don’t think you have anything in the fridge for dinner.  (Hello, Monday dilemma)  Nearly everyone has some form of pasta on hand. Carbonara is traditionally made with spaghetti, but it can really be just fine with any kind of dried pasta you have on hand.  Also – most people have bacon either in the fridge or freezer.  The sauce for this dish comes from cheese and egg yolks – that’s it!  And if you’re wanting something extra tossed in, try frozen peas or corn or lima beans – any kind of random bag of frozen veg you have in the freezer that has been labeled “too little for a side dish, too much to throw away”

I love the comfort of this dish – I love the simplicity and I love that in about 25 minutes, I can have a dish on the table that makes everyone feel good.  The little darlin’ loved it, too.

pasta carbonara for lunch

carbonara

pasta carbonara

Good for little fingers is any kind of smaller pasta such as rigatoni, fusilli, macaroni, or these cute little corkscrew shapes (which I think are just un-trimmed macaroni)  really – whatever you think your toddler can grab or stab with a fork – go for it!

carbonara bowl

Pasta Carbonara
serves 2.5 (two big people and one little person) or 4 as a side dish

8 ounces dried pasta, cooked al dente (maybe cook a little longer for the baby if they don’t have more than 8 teeth, like mine)
4 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small onion, diced small
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas (or other vegetable of your choice)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks

1. Salt your pasta water.  I usually put about 1/4 cup of salt into a large pot of water (at least a half gallon of water.)  EEEEEEEK, SALT!  Here’s the thing: it flavors your pasta.  You don’t have to salt the dish upon completion because you salted along the way.  Just enough salt gets absorbed into the pasta and it’s perfect.  The noodles could be eaten on their own.  Try it next time.  And if you’re still worried, just look at how much sodium is in the powdered cheese on your blue box mac and cheese.

2. Bring the water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta till al dente, or a little over for the little mouths that will be eating.  Reserve a cup of pasta water and then drain your pasta, rinse and set aside.

3. Cook the bacon strips in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy.  Reserve on a paper towel and drain all but a tablespoon of the oil from the pan.  Toss in your onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent.  Add in your frozen vegetables and pasta and a splash of the pasta water and stir until combined.

4. Remove the pan from the burner and while stirring constantly, add the egg yolks and cheese.  Stir stir stir stir as to not get scrambled eggs.  The heat from the pasta will cook your yolks and they will combine with the cheese to make a sauce.  If the pasta looks a bit too dry, add more of your reserved water and stir to combine.  Pasta water is starchy and salty and PERFECT for making a pasta sauce.

5. Fold in the bacon, garnish with more cheese, if desired, and serve with a crusty piece of buttered bread.

6. And a glass of Malbec for the big people.

Enjoy!

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