Nothing could be simpler than Spaghetti alla Carbonara, in which hot pasta is quickly tossed with eggs, cheese, and bacon creating a comforting and decadent sauce. I have adapted this recipe from my favorite authentic Italian cookbook: Claudia Roden’s “The Food of Italy“. Her translations of regional Italian fare capture and illustrate the simple-is-best philosophy. Yet I couldn’t help adding a touch of green in the form of thinly sliced asparagus coins. Variations include fresh or frozen green peas, or better yet, fava beans. A few drops of white truffle oil really takes this dish to the next level, but it’s completely optional. Uncork a bottle of Prosecco or crisp Pinot Grigio, and dinner is served. Mangia!
- 1 bunch asparagus, or substitute 1 1/4 cup green peas or fava beans
- 8 ounces smoked bacon, diced
- 1 large clove garlic, pressed
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
- salt and lots of freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 pound dried spaghetti
- few drops white truffle oil (optional)
1. Wash and snap the woody ends from the asparagus stalks. Cut the stems into thin coins, and leave the tips whole. Set aside.
2. In a large pot, big enough to toss the pasta in, fry the diced bacon over medium heat. Once bacon is crisp-chewy, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings from the pan. Add the pressed garlic to the pan and set aside.
3. Fill a large pot with a gallon of water and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, combine eggs and cream in a small mixing bowl and whisk lightly with a fork. Set aside. Grate the cheeses and set aside. During the last minute of cooking time for the pasta, toss in the asparagus to lightly blanch it. When pasta is al dente, drain and immediately add pasta and asparagus to bacon pan over low heat. Pour in egg mixture and toss quickly to coat the pasta and cook the egg. Add cheeses, salt, and a generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper. If desired, add a few drops of white truffle oil. Toss to combine and heat through. Serve immediately.