Weeknight Dinners: Pasta Carbonara

WARNING: this post contains both food AND a recipe!

Pasta alla Carbonara

Mom’s dinner, again. Sigh.

After a brush with what I’m now terming the three headed monster of my life (insomnia, stress, and grrr which I’m also terming as an actual emotion now) I’ve decided to plan ahead a little and write this blog post in the predawn hours and add pictures later.

Which is, surprise, what was working out so well for me last week.  Why I didn’t just keep on that track, I may never know.

Today was another looong day; work, gym, back home to die on my bed for forty minutes and then work calls.

(Aside: I never thought I’d say this but I have so much empathy for those people who call your house asking if you want to buy new windows and crap.  It sucks.  It is the worst of jobs and trust me, these people want nothing less than to interrupt your dinner.  Be polite when you usher them off the phone, because they’re just doing what they’re getting paid a crappy hourly wage to do.)

The dinner slated for tonight was easy enough, though: nice gooey pasta carbonara (starring the half pound– half pound!– of prosciutto everyone’s been drooling over for the past three days).

Fact: I didn't use two eggs.  I changed my mind at the last minute, as I am prone to do.

Fact: I didn’t use two eggs. I changed my mind at the last minute, as I am prone to do.

Super easy.  As long as you have a hand to whisk with, there is nothing at all difficult about this pasta.

(Sorry, amputees.)

It’s also super gooey and makes you feel cozier.  Perfect for this stupid snow?  Yes.

Tired of me talking about the snow?  Good, so am I.  I’ll try to curb it.

Bonus, it’s super quick.  So the fact that I kind of lost track of time for a little while was totally okay!

Chefs who kind of scare me: this man.  Also Julia Child.

Chefs who kind of scare me: this man. Also Julia Child.

Pasta carbonara (or as Nick Stellino was kind enough to inform me in the info blurb in his cookbook, coal miner’s pasta) starts the same way most pastas do: you start boiling water for pasta, and then you fry stuff.

In my case a small mountain of prosciutto, bacon's super classy cousin.

In my case a small mountain of prosciutto, bacon’s super classy Italian cousin.

Then when you’re done, you put it all together.  But carbonara has to be a little bit of a snob (because why not) and give you an extra step.

That’s the one with the whisking.

Egg, cheese, pepper, and parsley get whisked together with a quarter cup of pasta water so that you’re coating the pasta with something thick instead of something watery and sad; constant whisking is required so that you get something tasty instead of scrambled eggs.

Which are also good, but not on spaghetti.  Probably.

Which are also good, but not on spaghetti. Probably.

And that’s pasta carbonara!  Dinner in a snap (for those of us with hands with which to whisk, for which I am eternally grateful).

Pasta alla Carbonara
adapted from Nick Stellino’s Glorious Italian Cooking


  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • 1/4 cup pasta water, reserved
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 5-6 slices Italian prosciutto, chopped (swappable with pancetta or just plain old bacon)
  • 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • olive oil

Cooking Directions

  1. Set your pasta a-cookin’.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium-high, heat a little olive oil and saute the mushrooms for about 3-4 minutes. Add the prosciutto and garlic and saute two minutes more before adding in the red pepper and about half of the parsley. Saute until fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken broth and let the mixture reduce.
  4. Strain your pasta and get ready for the crazy part.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg, parmesan, black pepper, and remaining parsley. Slowly add the water, whisking constantly, until combined.
  6. Keeping the pasta over low heat, toss with the mushrooms and prosciutto. Remove from heat and stir in the egg and cheese mixture, adding a little olive oil as necessary to keep the pasta from seizing too much.

Ready to be done with this weather yet?  What’s your favorite weather-blues-fighting food?


2 thoughts on “Weeknight Dinners: Pasta Carbonara

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