Seasonal Flavors: Pasta Carbonara

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Denise's Pasta Carbonara (Photo: Denise Zito)

I tasted my first pasta carbonara in Sicily, though it is actually a Roman dish. The friend we were visiting had studied in Rome and made it when we stayed with him in Catania, Sicily. It’s breathtakingly delicious, calorie-laden, velvety pasta, named ‘carbonara’ (like a coal miner) because of the small pieces of pancetta that resemble chunks of coal. I made it for my cousin Tony once; I thought he was going to weep, he found it so delicious.

I ate it again last year in France, after a 12-mile walk, thus not caring one iota how many calories I would consume. That restaurant served it with a raw egg yolk, still in the shell, nestled in the center of the pasta, for the patron to pour over the pasta just before eating it. This would probably cause a typical American to faint. I loved it! I dare you to try it!

Pasta Carbonara

  • 1 lb thin spaghetti
  • ½ pound pancetta or bacon, cut into small cubes
  • 3 beaten eggs, plus an extra egg yolk per person, if you are adventurous
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese

Put a large kettle of salted water on to boil.

In a heavy skillet, fry the pancetta or bacon until crispy. Remove from heat.

Beat the eggs, grate the cheese, add spaghetti to the boiling water.

When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and quickly add to the skillet of pancetta. Stir to mix. Immediately add the beaten eggs and whisk to coat the pasta without cooking the egg. Next, stir in the cheese. The heat from the pasta melts everything together. When completely combined, plate the pasta and decorate the top with a separated egg yolk, in the shell, nestled atop the pasta. Serve immediately. Serves 4-5.

Save the egg whites and the next morning, make yourself a virtuous egg white omelet for breakfast.

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