Carbonara with a Twist
Why didn’t the Romans think of tossing spinach with a carbonara? Rome is such a vegetable heavy city, but none of their traditional pastas ever reflect that, they have their place on a small plate next to the meat, or (usually fried) at the start of the meal, but never over pasta.
Carbonara has always been one of my favorite pastas and since I rarely make more than one course for a meal I started incorporating my veg into the pasta. I had been making carbonara this way for years when I was living in New York, I hesitated to make it for my husband for a long time. I’ve mentioned in past posts that Italians aren’t really into new versions on tradition. As it turns out he loves the spinach tossed in with the bacon and eggs, I guess it is a good thing that I didn’t marry a Roman!
- 1/4 lb of bacon (pancetta is better, but more expensive and not as easy to find, guanciale is also preferred)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 eggs (same rule as rice, one per person and one for the pot)
- 1/2 lb of spinach (either half a bag of tender spinach or half of a bunch of spinach)
- 1/2 lb of rigatoni
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano
- salt to taste
Fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Cut bacon into small slices, chop onions. Heat the bacon in a heavy skillet over medium-low, as the bacon starts to sizzle, add onion. When onions starts to turn a golden brown add the oil and turn the heat to low. The onions and the pancetta will caramelize, but you don’t want them to burn.
In the meantime crack eggs into a small bowl, beat until well blended and clean and roughly chop spinach, they should still be fairly large pieces after they’ve been chopped. You don’t need to wash bagged spinach, it has been pre-washed, but if you are using a bunch of spinach, make sure that there isn’t any excess water on the leaves.
Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
When the pasta is perfectly al dente, drain the pasta, but leave the flame on at a low flame. Return pasta to the pot on the low flame and add the onions and bacon. Toss to cover the pasta with the bacon and onions and the spinach and the eggs. Stir the pasta for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the spinach starts the wile and the eggs start to scramble. It will be ready as soon as the eggs start to scramble.
Serve with grated parmigiano or pecorino romano.