Let’s Cook: Pasta alla Carbonara

Today, Katy Purwin and Christine Cochran, the two young and hungry chicks behind the Young & Hungry blog, share their recipe for pasta alla carbonara.

Tony Bourdain famously declared his love for eggs with some rather unsavory language (reference No Reservations Chicago if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)  While I might have chosen different wording, I certainly understand his predilection for all things egg, delicious little protein bombs that they are.  Then when I saw a Mario Batali recipe that combines eggs with the other food that brings me to my knees–-pasta–I knew I was destined to create my own version at home.

Mario calls this pasta in the style of the refrigerator man, or pasta alla carbonara.  Any way you choose to say it, it’s light and lovely.  The egg coats the pasta such that it creates creamy, salty strands of heaven on the tongue, a perfect dish for a cold winter’s night.

Serves 4
•    Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
•    2 T EVOO
•    ½ onion, diced (use yellow or red)
•    2 medium sized zucchini, cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
•    ½ can chick peas, drained
•    1 pound spaghetti or bucatini pasta (I used whole wheat)
•    2 large eggs
•    ¼ tsp Kosher salt
•    1 tsp ground black pepper (yes, it’s a lot)
•     ¼ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
•    ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Fill a large pot with 8 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons salt and return to a boil.
In a very large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3 minutes.  Add zucchini and chick peas and cook until soft and lightly golden, 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
Add pasta to boiling water and cook, according to package directions, until almost al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Transfer pasta to skillet, along with 1/2 cup reserved cooking water. Place skillet over medium heat.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs and season with salt and pepper. Add eggs to skillet along with cheese; gently mix to combine. Let cook until eggs just begin to set, but not scramble. Remove from heat and add parsley and sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired.  Serve immediately.


  • dk

    This recipe looks good, but leaves out an essential ingredient of a good carbonara — guanciale, or if you can’t get it, pancetta or as a last resort bacon.

  • chick peas? parsley? zucchini?

  • rob

    @Alfonso – it’s why they are young and hungry – they don’t use the good stuff like pork

  • petzip

    If you’re going to make a vegetarian pasta dish, please do not use the names of well known classics to promote them. Carbonara without guanciale is just downright offensive, and for the record, the word itself refers to coal workers (il carbonari) not refrigerators in any sense. Food has it’s own history and the time honored recipes deserve some respect

  • Chef, Esq.

    That is the greasiest looking plate of noodles I have seen since one ill fated evening at a Panda Express a few years back. Gross.

  • dk

    I’m not a huge fan of Mario, but here is another carbonara recipe from his site, it includes pork!

    # A true carbonara has no cream, and it can be slightly tricky in its execution. The key is to toss and thoroughly mix the cooked pasta off the heat with the cheese, eggs, pepper, and pasta water, to create a creamy yet not overly thick sauce. I like to separate the eggs and present the individual egg yolks in nests of pasta; then each guest stirs the yolk into the pasta to cook it and form an even creamier sauce. Be sure to use the best—quality eggs you can get.
    # 3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
    # 8 ounces Guanciale (recipe below), Pancetta, or good Bacon
    # 1 pound Spaghetti
    # 1 ¼ cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    # 4 large Eggs, separated
    # Freshly ground Black Pepper

  • Kirk

    What’s all that crap mixed in with the overboiled fettucine?

  • Billusa99

    What Alfonso, and esp. Kirk, said.

    The real thing is on our menu for tonight, with pancetta because Jimmy’s was out of guanciale the last time I was there. Sorry… there’s only going to be enough for 2.

  • Mike

    Mario is an arrogant putz, I’ve even made the mistake of going to one of his places in NYC.

    So yeah, what Alfonso Kirk and Billusa99 said.

    If you are going to post postings from other blogs, try to get ones who know what they are talking about.

  • bistecca

    I’m sorry, but whatever that is, it ain’t carbonara. It doesn’t matter too much if you use guanciale, pancetta, or even bacon, but that recipe is a travesty.