So, contrary to what Olive Garden will tell you, Carbonara is not a pasta dish with cream sauce! It is not Alfredo’s ugly cousin! It is a beautiful and fresh thing all of it’s own. It’s spring-time perfection: quick, easy and fresh!
These are the only ingredients you need; this dish could not be simpler. That being said, this is a time to splurge on a nice cheese. Because there are so few ingredients (that aren’t expensive at all) this recipe has room in the budget to use a nice, hard Italian cheese like Grana Padano, Romano, Asiago or (the undisputed king of cheeses as per Chef Batali) Parmigiano Reggiano. There are even some wonderful ‘New World’ hard cheeses from America or Argentina that are available in most grocery store cheese cases.
The one American addition to carbonara that I like to include is peas! We all need to put more vegetables in our lives.
Pasta Carbonara – served with ciabatta bread
Serves 2-3 – cost approx $1.28 per serving, including bread
- 1 lb long pasta ($.45, if you wait for it to go on sale Buy One/Get One Free or for $1 then add a coupon and that makes for some cheap pasta!)
- 3 slices bacon, cut into small pieces ($.37)
- 1 small/ 1/2 large lemon, zest and juice ($.25)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas ($.29)
- 2 eggs ($.24)
- 2 Tbs minced parsley ($.10)
- 1/2 regular grated hard cheese or 1 cup microplane grated hard cheese ($1)
- salt and black pepper, to taste
Begin by putting a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Then go and gather and prepare all the other ingredients. Once the water is boiling, salt the water and add in the pasta. While the pasta cooks, heat the bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat and render out the fat. Once the bacon is crispy, turn off the heat and add in the peas so that they gently cook and/or thaw.
When the pasta is perfectly al dente (or however you like your pasta) use some tongs to pull out the pasta and add it to the bacon and peas. Put all the other ingredients into the pan and use the tongs to stir everything up, making a light sauce. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Easy, no?
***Note: This dish has eggs that are NOT fully cooked, don’t serve this to anyone very young, very old, immuno-compromised or pregnant, due to the very small risk of salmonella poisoning.***