Spring is always a busy time of year—now that the slowness of winter has waned and the days are increasingly longer, there’s just a rush of new energy and tasks to complete, especially those out in the garden. After being neglected all winter, it’s now been covered with a heavy coat of compost that I’ve moved over wheelbarrow-by-wheelbarrow, and all that hard work deserves the simplest and most delicious of all foods in return, carbonara and Barilla Collezione Bucatini.
Saturday April 6th is World Carbonara Day, and if you’ve never had the dish, I’m challenging you to make a big batch for yourself and take part in the fun and *insanely* tasty #CarbonaraChallenge with myself and Barilla. Joining the challenge is easy, simply make your favorite Carbonara recipe for your family and friends, post the dish on social media and challenge your friends to take the #CarbonaraChallenge, too!
If you’re unfamiliar with carbonara, it’s a sauce made from freshly grated pecorino romano and parmesan cheeses, mixed with egg yolks and freshly cracked black pepper to create a creamy, silky sauce that lightly coats each piece of bucatini pasta. Traditionally it’s tossed with little pieces of thickly cut pancetta or prosciutto that have been pan-fried until crispy, but I added one of my favorite pasta additions to the mix, caramelized onions, for some sweetness, and some fresh basil leaves for a touch of bright fresh flavor. For more carbonara recipe inspiration, hop over to Barilla!
I paired it with Barilla Collezione bucatini, which is a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a thin hole running through the center of the length of the pasta. That little hole is perfect for sucking up sauce, which is why I love having it with an intensely flavorful sauce like carbonara, because every bite of bucatini pasta literally explodes with a bit of carbonara sauce. It’s pretty much just straight up magic happening in your mouth. I hope you give it a try and participate in the #CarbonaraChallenge along with me, I’ll see you online for it on April 6th!
A delicious take on carbonara pasta, with egg yolks, parmesan and romano cheese, black pepper, and the addition of caramelized onions and fresh basil.
- 12 ounces Barilla Collezione Bucatini pasta
- 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 3 1/2 ounces 1/4 inch thick sliced pancetta or prosciutto
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 ounce grated pecorino romano cheese freshly grated
- 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black or rainbow peppercorns
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and reduce heat to medium low. Sauté until lightly golden, about 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and sauté until completely golden throughout, about another 10 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
While the onions are caramelizing, you can prepare the pancetta. Chop the pancetta into roughly 1/2-inch-wide squares. Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a medium pan over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and stir to coat in the oil. Cook until golden around the edges and crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the egg until smooth. Stir in the grated parmesan and Romano cheese, then add the ground peppercorns and half of the fresh basil and stir until combined. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add a tablespoon of salt. Add salt, and prepare the bucatini according to the package directions, but stopping short of the cooking time by 1 minute.
Towards the end of the cooking time, use a heat proof measuring cup to take 1 2/3 cups of water out of the pot and pour 1 cup of it in another large pot over medium high heat, setting the remaining 2/3 cup of pasta water aside.
- Strain the pasta and place it in the pot with the 1 cup of pasta water and finish cooking the pasta in the pot until al dente, stirring every 20 seconds. It will only take a minute or two. Once it’s al dente, remove the pot from the heat.
- Whisking constantly, add ⅓ cup of the reserved pasta water to the egg yolk and parmesan mixture in a thin steady stream. Continue whisking until combined. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the pot with the bucatini and use tongs to toss until coated in the mixture. Add the pancetta, the caramelized onion, the remaining basil leaves and the remaining ⅓ cup of the pasta water to the pot and toss to combine. Divide between 4 bowls and garnish with additional freshly grated pepper and serve.