Pasta alla carbonara. Luscious and wonderfully indulgent, this simple little treat is literally whisked together at the flick of the wrist.
And, the ingredients are simple too—just pasta, eggs, Parmesan, a little olive oil, salt and pepper. A silky sauce is created when the beaten eggs are tossed with the hot pasta and a little fat.
Originating in Rome in the mid-20th century. The word carbonara is derived from carbonaro (the Italian word for “charcoal burner”). Some believe the dish was created as a tribute to Italian coal miners; others believe the pasta was a way for families who could not afford meat to add protein to their pasta while using whatever meats (usually guanciale or pancetta) and cheeses (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano) they had on hand.
The trick to making a successful carbonara? Stirring the egg mixture quickly into the pasta which should be hot enough to “cook” the egg to make a sauce but not so hot as to make it curdle.
And the other “secret” trick to my rendition: lemon juice.
Trust me, it’s worth the extra 1.5 seconds.
Oh, and speaking of spare seconds, I can’t believe in all my haste to swiftly shift my ingredients to prevent pasta scramble – I completely forgot about the addition of fresh herbs from the garden! Halfway through gobbling up and devouring my lovely lemon dish, I saw those sneaky little herbs peeking out from behind a bowl on the counter.
Yahtzee! Don’t forget the herbs!
Lemon Spinach Carbonara
3 oz. cooked spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente, drained, and piping hot! (I used rice noodles for a gluten free version)
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
plenty of sea salt and pepper
1 large handful of baby spinach
1 farm fresh egg (thank you, Valerie – just look at that golden yolk)
2 Tbs. fresh herbs: basil, lemon thyme, and chives, chopped
Working quickly toss all the ingredients together into a large bowl, whisking the egg into creamy goodness. The heat of the pasta shall cook the egg, and the wrist action shall create the magic “cream” of the egg and lemon juice, without a scramble.
Top with Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired. (Why would you not, really?)