Spaghetti carbonara wasn’t something my father cooked for me, at least not that I can remember. But back when I was first learning to cook for myself, I told him I’d prepared it using this recipe, and he reminisced about when he used to make this hearty, bacony dish. Sure enough, I found his version of the recipe in the binder my mom put together in the late 1980s.
This recipe is a vast improvement on the Tablespoon version, which I already had to doctor up. The addition of cream and parsley to the egg mixture gives the dish added depth, but I added all the spices to the egg mixture myself. Paprika in particular adds a bit of smoky flavor. Don’t be afraid to be liberal with the spices—once the egg mixture is dispersed over the pasta, the flavors really mellow out.
One added note: the original recipe called for mushrooms instead of bell peppers. But, much to my father’s shame, I really dislike mushrooms, so I made that substitution. It gives the dish a welcome crunch, in my opinion, so don’t be afraid to add bell peppers and mushrooms to the mix if you’re feeling bold. In the past, I’ve mixed in fresh, uncut spinach into this dish so I can at least pretend it’s kind of healthy. The heat from the pasta will wilt it a bit, but you can also throw it into the pan on the tail end of cooking the onion mixture.
This hearty, after-work recipe only takes 30 minutes to prepare. Crisp bacon and creamy eggs make the pasta extra-savory, while onions and green peppers provide a welcome crunch.
- 1 lb of pasta (preferably spaghetti or narrow fettuccine)
- 3/4 lb. bacon
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup whipping cream or half-and-half
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- Optional: 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
- Boil water and cook pasta until al dente.
- While waiting for the water to boil, cook the bacon, but don't let it get too crisp. Set cooked bacon on paper towels and drain grease, leaving a small amount in the pan. Use the leftover grease to cook the chopped onion and bell pepper over medium heat until soft, adding the garlic and mushrooms (if using) partway through, stirring often to ensure nothing gets burnt. When the veggies are done cooking, turn off heat, chop bacon into 1-inch pieces, and add to the pan. Cover mixture to keep warm.
- In a bowl, beat the eggs with cream, parmesan cheese, parsley, and all of the spices. Add this mixture to the pot of hot, drained pasta, tossing to ensure all the noodles are coated. Pour the bacon-veggie mixture into the pasta pot and toss well.
- After a minute or two, the egg mixture will be fully cooked onto the hot pasta. Serve immediately, sprinkling servings with additional parmesan or parsley if desired.
Forgive me for the quality of the pictures (and my cookware). I’m still learning! But please enjoy this bonus bacon shot: