Carbonara is a traditional Italian dish that is quick and easy to make. This carbonara recipe is topped with roasted asparagus and bacon for a little twist on the classic.
This carbonara recipe is definitely not traditional but the base pasta is one that I know my kids will always eat. It’s simple, cheesy and creamy so it’s perfectly kid friendly. I like to add new ingredients to favorite dishes like this that I am trying to introduce my kids to. This is one of those kinds of dishes.
I like to pair this with my honey lime fruit salad which is another of my kids favorites. It’s a lovely simple and light dinner. If you want to make it extra special serve it with a special drink like this sangria mocktail which is fresh and fruit,
Carbonara is a classic dish that comes to us from Italy. The origins of carbonara are vague with some pointing its origins to during World War II while others point to much further back. No matter it’s origins, it is a simple dish that packs a lot of flavor from a few key ingredients.
What is traditionally used for carbonara is spaghetti, eggs, black pepper, cured pork like guanciale or pancetta, and hard cheese, usually Pecorino Romano or Parmesan. For this very much non-traditional recipe I’ve swapped the cured pork for bacon and added asparagus.
Why is there no cream in carbonara?
There is no cream in carbonara because the creaminess of the sauce is supposed to come solely from the eggs and a little bit of pasta water if it’s needed. The egg cooks with the hot pasta and creates a lovely light sauce with little effort. Although some people may add cream, it’s really not needed.
What is the difference between Alfredo and carbonara?
Although these two sauces share some similar ingredients they are very different in their end result. A few key differences is that alfredo sauce is made with cream and butter in addition to cheese for a rich creamy sauce. Carbonara is simpler and lighter while still being creamy.
Other recipes you might like
- Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Goat Cheese Lasagna
- Easy Kale Pesto Chicken Alfredo
- 30 Minute One Pot Tortellini Primavera
- Garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- Black Pepper
- Thick cut bacon
- Parmigiano Reggiano
Asparagus comes in several different varieties including white and purple. You can use whatever color you would like but the classic green or purple asparagus have the best color pop. If your picky eater is averse to all green things, try the white and see if it is visually less worrisome.
Although I’ve used fettuccine here, you could also use spaghetti or linguine noodles. Some people like to use rigatoni or similar tube-like pastas but I prefer the long noodles. The long thin noodles pair best with the thinner sauce and it is easier to toss the pasta and get all of the ingredients to incorporate correctly.
You can also do a mixture of Pecorino Romano or Parmigiana Reggiano in whatever ratio you would like. They do have different flavors and will result in a bit different flavor depending on the ratio you use. Try a 50/50 blend of the cheeses.
How to make this
The key to a good carbonara is having everything ready to go by the time the pasta is done cooking. You want to be able to toss the sauce ingredients with the still warm pasta which is what helps the sauce cook.
To start, you will roast the asparagus with the bacon in the oven until the asparagus is crisp tender and the bacon begins to crisp. Make sure to use thick cut bacon and not regular cut bacon because the thinner bacon will burn in the oven.
Drain any fat before setting aside the asparagus and bacon to toss with the carbonara when it is done cooking.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta a few minutes less than the package directions tell you to. The pasta will cook a bit more when it is tossed with the sauce. Drain it well, reserving a bit of the pasta water, before adding the pasta back to your pot or into a large saucepan.
Have the sauce ingredients ready to go when the pasta is done cooking. Add the egg mixture to the pasta and use tongs or a pasta fork to toss the sauce with the pasta. Continue moving the pasta over the heat until the sauce begins to thicken and coats the pasta. If it seems too thick, you can add a little bit of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce to your desired consistency.
Add the asparagus and bacon and serve immediately!
The carbonara will keep fresh stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. However, the pasta will begin to dry out over that time. I find that it tastes best eaten immediately and is okay the next day.
My preferred way to reheat pasta is a skillet over low heat. Add a small amount of oil or butter and your leftover carbonara to a pan and heat over low. Keep the pasta moving and if it seems dry add a splash of broth, cream, milk, or water. Briefly cover with a lid (no more than a minute) before serving.
For the Roasted Asparagus
- 1 bunch asparagus cut into 1” pieces
- 3-4 slices thick-cut bacon chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Carbonara
- 16 ounces dried fettuccine
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly grated black pepper
Make the Roasted Asparagus
- Preheat the oven for 400F. Spray a roasting pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.
- Combine the asparagus, bacon, garlic, and salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the asparagus is crisp-tender and the bacon is starting to brown. Make sure to toss the asparagus and bacon halfway through cooking.
- Set aside until ready to use.
Make the Carbonara
- Cook the fettuccine for two minutes less than the package directions indicate. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.
- Then, drain the pasta and return it to the pot set over medium-low heat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, parmesan, olive oil, and black pepper.
- Add the mixture to the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the egg yolks have thickened and formed a sauce that coats the pasta evenly. If the sauce thickens too much, dilute it with some of the reserved pasta water. You likely will not need the entire cup of water– I usually use a ⅓-½ cup.
- Once the sauce is your desired consistency, toss the asparagus and bacon with the pasta. Serve, garnished with freshly grated parmesan and freshly cracked black pepper.