Pasta is almost a universal comfort food. Whether it’s won tons floating in miso soup, a plate full of spaghetti, or a bowl of good old mac ‘n cheese, there’s something truly heartwarming about a pile of noodles being set in front of you. And, there’s something equally gratifying in being the one setting down the plate and seeing the smiles grow.
One of the more elegant, yet easiest, presentations for pasta is a simple carbonara. In fact, the most time consuming part of the recipe is waiting for the water to boil! One of my favorite parts is the lack of a sauce – at least in the traditional sense. As noted in my previous post, there’s three basic ways to make/thicken a sauce. This one uses none of them. Instead, we’re using eggs to stiffen and become the sauce. With that in mind, keep an eye on the timing and the order the ingredients get added on this one! What you add and when you add it is a bit more finicky here.
This is also a perfect opportunity for cast iron to really shine. Cast iron’s natural ability to work well at low temperatures, as well as its ability to retain and throw heat make it a natural choice for this recipe. For 2 people, I like working with a 10” cast iron skillet.
Another note. Traditional carbonara uses only egg whites, while you’ll notice I use the whole egg. No, it isn’t by the book. But it’s yummy this way, and I prefer the more golden color the dish takes on when it’s done. Truth be told, I just have a really hard time throwing away a perfectly good egg yolk. If you want a more traditional approach, just use two egg whites rather than one whole egg but, realize that now you’re wasting TWO perfectly good egg yolks! *GASP*
Final notes/ideas on how to play with your food.
As always, please use my recipe as a jumping off point for your own creative adventure and not as the final result! Popular additions include grilled chicken breast, ham, broccoli, asparagus, shredded carrots, and whatever else happens to be sitting still in the fridge. A word of caution, though… don’t add peas. Not because it wouldn’t work, but because peas are nasty green balls of evil doom that no sane person should ever be forced to ingest. All I’m saying is DON’T give peas a chance.
Happy Cooking, Everyone!