Do you need a high-calorie pasta that is incredibly delicious, quick, easy to make, and only uses 4 ingredients? Introducing spaghetti carbonara. But not the cream-based version; this is the authentic Italian version.
I’ve eaten this twice in Italy and it’s my favorite version of carbonara. Plus, it’s actually easier to make than the already easy cream-based carbonara and contains better nutrition.
Why I like this recipe
This high-calorie carbonara has become my go-to pasta recipe for when I’m a bit undecided about what to make or feeling a little lazy.
It only uses 4 ingredients; 3 of them are long-lasting; the last is fresh eggs, which I usually have stocked. And if you don’t have pancetta, you can also use bacon rashes by cutting them into thick slices instead.
Taking just 15 minutes to make while having 945 calories and 45 grams of protein, it’s a great recipe to know.
- Spaghetti: Traditional spaghetti is the go-to choice for this dish. For a healthier twist, you can switch to wholegrain spaghetti (which I do a lot!). This gives a beneficial boost in fiber content and introduces a slightly more robust flavor.
- Pancetta: Guanciale is the traditional meat for carbonara, but I opted for Pancetta for a leaner, more accessible meat. If you’re having trouble finding either, you can use unsmoked bacon cubes as a substitute.
- Eggs: The quality of the eggs is extra important in carbonara. We use fresh eggs to make a silky carbonara sauce instead of scrambling them so they are heated instead of cooked. Fresh eggs will guarantee you the best flavor and nutrition.
- Pecorino Romano: This cheese is the traditional cheese used in Italy. It’s sharp, salty, and slightly tangy, which helps add depth to the rich sauce. If you can’t source Pecorino Romano, use a good quality parmesan like Parmingao Reggiano or Grana Padano.
- Black Pepper: In Italy, they use a lot of black pepper. I’ve eaten this dish twice there before, and it’s delicious. Make sure to be generous with the black pepper and use freshly cracked for the best flavor.
The Silky Sauce Technique: The secret to the iconic silky carbonara sauce lies in eggs, Pecorino Romano, and starchy pasta water. This combination creates a smooth, velvety sauce that clings perfectly to your spaghetti. It’s essential to mix in the eggs off the heat to avoid them scrambling.
How to Adjust the Carbonara Sauce’s Consistency: Carbonara sauce can sometimes become too thick, but a simple fix is your reserved pasta water. Gradually mix in a splash of pasta water at the end until you reach your preferred sauce consistency. You don’t need much!
Be Generous with the Black Pepper: Traditional Carbonara’s flavor has black pepper notes that pair well with the other bold flavors, so be generous. For the best flavor, freshly grind your black pepper.
Why doesn’t this carbonara recipe include cream?
Traditional Italian carbonara doesn’t use cream. Instead, it relies on eggs, Pecorino Romano, and pasta water to create its signature creamy texture. Not only is this method authentic, but using eggs also offers better nutritional value than cream.
I’m worried about the eggs. Are they raw?
The eggs in carbonara aren’t completely raw, and the dish is eaten by millions. They’re slightly cooked by the residual heat from the pasta and pan, similar to a runny yolk in a poached egg. But if you’re still worried, you can use pasteurized eggs instead.
Can I make a double portion and store it for later?
While you can make a double portion but, I don’t recommend it. It’s best enjoyed immediately after it’s made because the eggs risk scrambling when reheating, ruining that lush, velvety sauce.
Can I add any other ingredients?
Yes, peas are a wonderful addition if you’re looking to incorporate a vegetable. Their fresh, slightly sweet profile pairs excellently with the umami-rich pancetta and Pecorino Romano. Just toss them into the pan about 2 minutes before the pancetta finishes cooking to heat them through.
Can I make this spaghetti carbonara 1000 calories?
Yes. To do this, simply fry the pancetta in 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and add 2 oz of peas to the recipe. This will add 108 calories, making this spaghetti carbonara 1053 calories per serving.
Spaghetti Carbonara (900+ Calories)
- 4 ½ oz Spaghetti
- 2 oz Pancetta
- 2 Eggs
- 1 oz Pecorino Romano
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then generously salt. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Just before draining, reserve ⅓ cup of the pasta water.
- Meanwhile, as the spaghetti cooks, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté for about 3-5 minutes or until it begins to crisp.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, grated Pecorino Romano, and a generous amount of black pepper until well incorporated.
- Once the pancetta is ready, pour half the reserved pasta water into the sauté pan. Deglaze the pan by scraping any bits off the bottom. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan and stir continuously, allowing most of the pasta water to evaporate.
- Remove the sauté pan from the heat and swiftly mix in the egg mixture, stirring quickly to avoid scrambling the eggs. If the sauce appears too thick, you can adjust its consistency with a splash of the reserved pasta water.
- Serve immediately, straight from the pan.
- Make sure to remove the pan from the heat before adding the egg mixture. Then, stir swiftly after adding the egg mixture; this will stop the eggs from scrambling but still allow them to cook on the residual heat from the pan and pasta.
- If the carbonara sauce is too thick, you can mix in a splash of the reserved pasta water.
- To make this pasta even higher in calories, fry the pancetta in half a tablespoon of extra olive oil and add 2 oz (55g) of peas to the recipe. Add the peas 2 minutes before the pancetta should have finished cooking.