penne carbonara with garlic scapes

penne carbonara with caesar salad on the side

I just wrote about casesar salads being a mainstay in my late teen years. Carbonara was another favorite. I grew up in a university town so there was an entire strip made up of bars and in between those bars, you’d often find restaurants catering to large college appetites and even larger portions. There was one such place that was hidden down an alley and tucked into a basement. It had a gimmicky name but it was where I had my first taste of spaghetti carbonara. It was rich and salty and perfect. I not only craved carbonara, I dreamt about it.

carbonara in the pot

I’ve made carbonara once before…but it was a wholly vegetarian affair with broccoli adding colour and a more healthy bent. When I found myself with a bit of bacon (not a common ingredient in this household), I decided not just to make a caesar salad but to go whole hog and make a traditional carbonara. When I described this dish to my husband he said, “oh, like a breakfast pasta!” and it really is just that: bacon and eggs and pasta. Well, with a bit of cheese and a lot of garlic added in for good measure. I also had some garlic scapes from our CSA so I threw those in for a bit of colour and for their subtle garlic flavour.


Now, this is a pasta where beaten raw eggs are thrown in to cooked pasta. You might assume that this could get slimy, but fear not. Use fresh eggs, of course (organic & free range is what I always buy), but the hot pasta gently cooks the eggs into a silky and rich sauce. That said, I certainly wouldn’t be serving this to anyone with a compromised immune system (including the very young, the very old or the very pregnant), just in case.

Elsewhere: Check out my recipe for a delicious & garlicy kale and chard raw salad. It’s over at Poppytalk and it makes full use of our CSA bounty. Also, over at ReadyMade, I’ve got a post detailing the not-so-illicit sour cherry trade. Got a great sour cherry idea? Leave a comment over there!

21 comments to “penne carbonara with garlic scapes”

  1. 1
    Lydia   July 22, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Bacon is a frequent occurrence in our house. What a lovely meal you’ve got there! I’ve tried to make both carbonara and alfredo from really basic recipes (Ruth Reichl and Ruhlman, respectively), and somehow I screw them up. My husband still likes them though.

  2. 2
    Nicole   July 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    That looks delicious! I’m sure the addition of the garlic scapes was a wise decision 🙂

  3. 3
    crystal   July 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    oh! i will be making this.

  4. 4
    vanillasugar   July 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    now this is what i should have tonight. hello!

  5. 5
    laura k   July 22, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Oh, you have made me crave the carbonara big time. I just got a delivery of eggs from a local farm this afternoon so I think I know what’s for dinner tonight…

  6. 6
    sarah   July 22, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    This recipe, and your broccoli carbonara dish, look easy and delicious. Sometimes I made a velvety green carbonara by pureeing broccoli and green beans into the egg and cheese topping. Yum. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. 7
    Bijoux   July 22, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Looks amazing! Love the addition of green garlic scapes. I’ve only made spaghetti carbonara once. It was while living and teaching English in Greece in the 1990s. It was a dish everyone was talking at the time (a new food trend perhaps?) so I made it without really following a recipe, just with my instincts and it turned out really good. I added lots of eggs, butter, cheese…a very rich meal but I didn’t care, I was thin back then. Since there was no bacon around, I used sliced ham. Anyway, whenever I hear the word carbonara I think about that time and my big decadent pot of carbs, I mean carbo-nara 🙂

  8. 8
    T ray   July 22, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    I love Carbonara, but no longer eat pork, have you ever tried it with turkey bacon or turkey ham? I’m not sure how well those products do as substitutions.

  9. 9
    Meg   July 22, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    This looks so yummy. I’ve been making a lot of penne pasta primavera, but it looks like I’ll be meating things up and making this soon. Thanks for sharing!

  10. 10
    Kimberly   July 22, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Oh baby that looks and sounds good! I have a bunch of garlic scapes and had no idea what to do with them or how to cook them – perhaps I shall make this delightful dish! Pasta Carbonara is perhaps one of my most favorite pasta dishes.

  11. 11
    caroline   July 23, 2010 at 1:31 am

    Can I admit that I have never tried pasta carbonara because I’m afraid of eating raw egg. But I want to like it and I think I will but that fear has been stopping me from trying it. But I think I’m ready. Yours look exceptionally good bc of all that garlic. Mmmm. For sure I’ll be making this. Thanks.

  12. 12
    Joanne   July 23, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Mmm carbonara is one of my favorites as well. It never really sounds like it should work. But oh. It does. THis looks gorgeous!

  13. 13
    Tracy   July 23, 2010 at 6:59 am

    To be devoured! One of our favorite pastas. I love it with a long cut, but go crazy over it when it perches so neatly inside of penne, ziti, rigatoni, farfalle…Tastes amazing with a nice sprinkle of green onion added in at the end. And we hammer ours with black pepper…Hammer!

  14. 14
    beth maher   July 23, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I have fond memories of Spaghetti Carbonara too. Did you know it was the first thing I ever learned to cook, all by myself? I think I was about 12, and I found it in an old pasta recipe book my parents had kicking around. I was at an age where I was surprised to find anything other than a red sauce or a white sauce could go on pasta.

    I’ve learned to put just a little splash of cream (especially sour cream) in the sauce to keep the eggs from scrambling, but not too much, because then it’s a cream sauce and that is NOT carbonara. I also like to de-glaze my bacon pan with some white wine.

    Mmmmmmm I could eat it everyday… But with all the cream, eggs, cheese, pasta and bacon it’s probably for the best that I don’t!

  15. 15
    Ashley   July 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    That looks so creamy and delicious, and with the crunchy salad on the side it looks like the perfect meal!!

  16. 16
    kickpleat   July 24, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks Lydia! I think basic is best when it comes to carbonara….it’s simple so it shouldn’t be complicated. I’ll totally check out the Reichl & Ruhlman recipes too).

    Nicole, I think it was 🙂

    Crystal, hope you like it!

    Vanilla Sugar, it’s tasty and quick. Enjoy!

    Hope it worked out for you, Laura K.

    Sarah, I like your spin on this!

    Bijoux, I think sliced ham would be just delicious too…and less fattening than bacon.

    T ray, I think you can definitely try this with turkey bacon or ham. I don’t think they’d be as good, but they should be worthy substitutes.

    Meg, you can still make a veggie version, but this is nice too 🙂

    I love garlic scapes, Kimberly and I’ve done so many things with them – stir fried & pesto, so this was a nice change.

    Caroline, stop the fear right this minute. The pasta cooks the eggs.

    Thanks Joanne.

    Tracy, green onion would be fab and I agree about the hammering!

    Beth, I like how you think with the sour cream and wine! I agree, this is best a dish that gets eaten only once in awhile.

    Thanks Ashley, it’s a good one.

  17. 17
    Lynn   July 27, 2010 at 7:04 am

    I’ve always heard pasta carbonara described as a heart attack on a plate. I like it much better as breakfast pasta. Funny that you put in the bit about raw eggs and pregnant women. My very pregnant daughter had raw milk and raw egg (organic, free range, of course) shakes every day and daughter, though 4 weeks early, is soooo healthy!

  18. 18
    eatrundesign   July 27, 2010 at 7:53 am

    mmm. I LOOVE carbonara pasta, its one of my faves, i’ve been hooked on garlic scapes too, i have a stash of frozen cubes of garlic scape pesto in my freezer right now

  19. 19
    kickpleat   July 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Yup, Lynn breakfast on a plate sounds so much more do-able 🙂 Yeah, I threw in that since it does seem to be a concern but since I’ve never been pregant I had no idea, so erred on safe.

    eatrundesign, i love that you have frozen scapes at the ready!

  20. 20
    Amanda   September 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I made this last night – sooo good, thanks!

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