Traditional Tuesday – Carbonara

Ten years ago I have had the privilege of traveling to Italy for vacation. At time the Euro was stronger than the dollar so most things were pricey. Throughout my time there, I was approached as being “giapponese” which means Japanese. I went to Rome, Florence, Umbria, Vatican City and Pisa. We went to many churches, most of them were labelled as minor basilicas. We attended many masses unintentionally, maybe it was a blessing. A lot of people spoke English but they don’t want to speak English, so I spent time during my 9 hour flight there learning the basics and if I can’t speak it in Italian, I spoke Spanish. We hit the major tourist spots such as the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square, Duomo, Tower of Pisa and Spanish Steps.

Now to the food, I have the privilege of tasting authentic Italian cuisine and wine throughout the trip. Given the cost of food, I resorted to what the Italian’s call “the poor man’s food” – Spaghetti Carbonara.

What is Spaghetti Carbonara?

Carbonara is a dish that consists of eggs, spaghetti (any pasta), cheese and leftover pancetta, guanciale or bacon. This dish was invented by a chef from Bologna, Italy named Renato Gualandi in 1944 just approximately at the end of World War II. During this time access to food and resources were very limited and he had a banquet to prepare for. Therefore, “he concocted a sauce for spaghetti made of bacon, cream, processed cheese and dried egg yolk, topped with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper”.

During quarantine I’ve been creating dishes with the food that we have. I had leftover bacon along with onions, cheese, eggs and pasta so I made carbonara. I searched for authentic recipes and I came across the simple recipe from Lidia Bastianich and I almost followed it to the “T”. So here is what I did:

Ingredients set up: bacon, onions, whole grain spaghetti, olive oil, grated parmesan cheese, two eggs (yolks were used), salt and pepper.
1) Boil water 2) Chop bacon and cook it over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes.
Push the bacon to the side and add the chopped onions. Cook the onions for five minutes.
As the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Combine the bacon and onions. Ladle 2-4 cups of pasta water (depending on serving size) to the bacon and onions.
Bring it to a boil and reduce.
Whisk egg yolks and add 1/2 cup of hot pasta water.
After the pasta is cooked add it to the bacon and onion mixture. Combine until well mixed.
Remove from heat and immediately add in the egg yolks. Stir until it’s creamy.
Add parmesan cheese and toss.
Serve immediately!!

Recently, I came across a recipe that was a low carb and even keto friendly from Food & Wine called: Asparagus Carbonara. There are so many health benefit to consuming asparagus. Asparagus contain antioxidants, which prevents inflammation, improve the immune system, remove excess water from the body. They treat ulcers, kidney stones, and depression. They also lower sugar levels, prevent wrinkles and breakouts, maintain skin elasticity and improve reproductive health. So, here is what I did with this recipe provided by Melissa Clark from Food & Wine magazine.

Heat skillet and cook chopped bacon for approximately 4-5 minutes.
Add asparagus and two tablespoons of water. Cook for 2-4 minutes.
Remove from the heat immediately and add the egg yolks with butter. Note: Pan was still hot and the egg yolks started to cook.
After the butter is melted, add in the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
Toss and serve immediately!!

For the last 75 plus years, carbonara has become a staple dish in Roman Italian cuisine. The dish is easy to make and it does not break the bank, therefore it is budget friendly. I am happy to be finally posting and blessed to do it on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Cheers! Enjoy! God Bless you all!

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