Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one iconic Italian pasta dish. It definitely ranks among the top five most cherished Italian dishes, just after a classic Pizza Margherita and Pomodoro Spaghetti of course. Pasta Carbonara has it’s origins in Rome, maybe a bit more precisely in the rural area surrounding it, known as Lazio. The tale tells that coal merchants, Carbonari in Italian, have been the natural inventors of Carbonara. As the true origin is not verified, and all the others just don’t sound as charming, let’s go with this old tale as the main origination of Pasta alla Carbonara then!
Those Carbonari used to travel along the Apennines, a massive mountain formation, all across Italy and as they have been continuality travelling all they owned and required for nourishment had to not only be kept close to them but also be long lasting in terms of expiration of each stock. Bacon, more precisely Guanciale, dried cured meat, is ideal for carrying over longer amounts of junctures, without a need to cool it. Due to various rivers and creeks, they had their water supply covered. And, Pasta could be transported without worries for a longer duration as well. Add a fresh egg from a nearby farm, fresh cheese and voila, the original preparation of Pasta Carbonara has been invented. But as meat consumption needs to be limited, here for you an almost authentic Recipe for Pasta Carbonara in a vegetarian version with fried Onions instead of Bacon.
(I have used low-quality “grated parmesan” cheese, so the result as pictured is far from ideal. However, make sure to splurge on an authentic piece of Pecorino or Grana Padano, so the freshly grated hard cheese will melt nicely in the alla Carbonara sauce) If you, too, are craving international delicacies, check out other Recipes from around the World.
Recipe: meat-free alla Carbonara Pasta with Bavette
Ingredients, per Portion:
- 80 g Pasta of your choice, preferably Spaghetti, Bavette, Pici, …
- half a small onion
- half a clove garlic
- 1 egg
- 50 g parmesan cheese, (freshly) grated
- a pinch freshly grated pepper
- a tablespoon salt, for the pasta water
- a tablespoon olive oil, to fry the onion
First off, add cold water into a pot, place it on high heat on your stove and add a tablespoon of salt right before the water starts to bubble. Already whilst the water is heating up, remove the skin of the onion and cut it in small about rectangular pieces. Remove the skin of the garlic clove as well, and cut it in smaller bits than the onion. Garlic is no part of the original alla Carbonara recipe, however outside of Italy pretty common (as well as cream), feel free to include garlic into your recipe, or not. Once the water is salted and cooking, reduce the heat to about medium and add your pasta of choice. Typical would be some longer type of pasta, such as Spaghetti, Bavette (like I used), or Penne or Farfalle would, of course, work as well. Cook the pasta al dente, about two minutes less than recommended.
Now warm up a pan on medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil once the pan is heated, and add the small cut onion as well as the garlic. Keep the bits constantly moving, as you want to evenly brown, and not over-fry them. In a bowl, crack the egg and stir it with a whisk, already add some nice air into the egg white and yolk mixture. Add the freshly grated parmesan, as well as pepper, and mix and whip everything continuously.
In the meantime, the Pasta should be about ready, as well as the Onions. Turn the heat for both off and remove the pasta from the water with tongs without draining, and add it to the pan. Any hot liquid now is important in this critical step of any Carbonara Recipe. You are now about to add the egg-parmesan mixture to the pan with the oily onions and the Pasta. The trick is to evenly add the mixture, and just keep on stirring and stirring, without letting the egg set. You don’t want scrambled eggs, you want to achieve a silky sauce. Therefore, add the mixture slowly one after another, and keep on stirring and mixing everything in the pan. If needed, add a few splashes of the hot pasta water and enjoy the Penne alla Carbonara with fried onion immediately.
(Here, my bad Parmesan was my nemesis, as it did not dissolve in the sauce. Besides that, this vegetarian version of Pasta alla Carbonara with Bavette tasted divine!)