Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara

by Cate on May 23, 2012

pasta-filled pantry shelf
There comes a point in every home cook’s life when you have amassed a little collection of go-to recipes.

For those nights when you just can’t bear to think about dinner.

For those too-busy-already days when you can’t handle stopping at the grocery store.

And my favorite reason?

For those days when unexpected company comes for dinner.

Last night was one of those days.

Another round of rain leading to cancelled soccer practice and an unexpected free night.  Paving the way to a spour-of-the-moment dinner with friends.

When you have a well-stocked pantry (the merits of which we have talked about here, here, here, here and here), on-the-fly dinner plans needn’t induce stress.

Most of us have bacon, pasta, and eggs on hand.  And so it becomes Spaghetti Carbonara.

Easy to make.  Kid-friendly.  Low-maintenance, leaving you time to chat with friends while cooking.  And better still?  Finishing dinner with newly minted members of the Clean Plate Club.

Spaghetti Carbonara was one of my mom’s go-to dishes when we were kids.  I make it probably once a month (it’s now one of Mystic’s daughter’s favorites as well), but I don’t use a recipe.  It’s not rocket science.  But last night, I did some quick searching for recipes, curious to see others’ methods, and the end result was a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a sum total of deliciousness.

Spaghetti Carbonara.  Nothing new.  Super simple.  But special enough to afford us a fun evening with friends that was low on chaos.

Well, as low on chaos as it can be with four kids running around the house with fake swords, makeshift pinatas, and rousing games of hide-and-seek.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tomorrow?  Advocating for your children.
Friday?  Heading down the Jersey shore for the long weekend?  We’ll share one of our new favorite stops.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Recipe courtesy of Cate O’Malley

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and diced; 2 tablespoons bacon grease reserved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti pasta until al dente. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook chopped onion in the reserved bacon fat and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic, and cook 1 minute more.
  3. Add cooked bacon to pan; add cooked and drained spaghetti. Toss to coat, adding more olive oil if it seems dry or is sticking together.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, and then add the Parmesan cheese.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the spaghetti mixture and mix well with tongs or large forks.
  5. Add reserved pasta water as necessary to achieve desired level of creaminess (I usually add up to a 1/3 cup).
  6. Serve immediately.
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef May 24, 2012 at 4:33 am

This is a favorite of mine when I just don’t have the oomph to cook. This is real comfort food for me.


Joanne May 24, 2012 at 6:43 am

I tend to go for risotto when I have guests/randomly need to cook a meal quickly because I can make it without a recipe. I’ve made a few carbonaras in my day and it’s a great go-to as well!


paula May 24, 2012 at 7:48 am

Spaghetti Carbonara was one of the first more complicated, non-baking, recipes I followed step by step when I was young. I think it was in Seventeen Magazine (which doesn’t sound right so I might be wrong about that). It was so good but it was years until I made it again.

Two weeks ago I made carbonara with homemade chorizo. Just the chorizo, pasta, eggs, cream and salt and pepper – no cheese. It was heavenly.


chris May 24, 2012 at 8:00 am

OMG you know this is my favorite.


Cate O'Malley May 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

I remembered as soon as I saw your name pop up … now you can make it yourself! ;) Or come and visit us and I’ll make it for you. The kids keep asking about you…


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