The delicious pasta carbonara is the easiest and quickest pasta dish you will make. This classic Italian pasta dish is made with creamy eggs, Parmesan cheese, salty pancetta, and a hint of black pepper and can be prepared in only 15 minutes.
I remember the first time I ate pasta carbonara. It was in a small, casual restaurant near Piazza Navona in Rome. Before traveling to Italy I made a promise to myself that I would not get duped by those typical tourist traps, but it happened. My friends and I were starving after having covered who knows how many kilometres on foot of the city. We were aware of our surroundings, meaning most of the restaurants were flooded with tourists. Coincidentally, it also meant it was a bad idea to eat in that particular area. But our growling stomachs got the best of us, and so we caved. Albeit the dish tasted fantastic, it lacked the pizzazz most Italian dishes have, and it was ridiculously overpriced. But what’s done, is done. Having said that, that lackluster experience introduced me to pasta carbonara, and I am forever grateful – and so is my family!
Pasta carbonara is a typical Roman dish, traditionally made with Pecorino Romano cheese and guanciale (an Italian cured meat that takes its name from guancia – the Italian word for cheek). The pasta of choice is usually spaghetti, although it’s just as delicious with other varieties such as linguine, fettuccine, and penne. Interpretations of the recipe vary according to geographic location. For example, in northern Italy they add Parmesan and sometimes peas while in the south they use Pecorino Romano cheese and omit the peas. Every variation of pasta carbonara is just as delicious as the last, regardless of which part of Italy you’re from.
Pasta carbonara has gained a reputation for being heavy and fattening due to the addition of cream, thanks to North American renditions of the recipe. On the contrary, the traditional Italian recipe doesn’t even call for cream. Yes, it is a super-rich, luscious dish, but all that creaminess actually comes from the raw eggs’ coming in contact with the hot pasta and being gently cooked with the residual heat from the pasta.
And then there’s the pepper. Cracked black pepper, to be exact. You’re supposed to use lots of it. I’m not a huge a fan of pepper in general, so this recipe reflects my personal tastes. I’ve only used a touch to season the pancetta, and instead of using it as a garnish I’ve added fresh parsley, more Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
If you try this recipe (and love it!) be sure to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram with #bitesforfoodies so I can see your creation!