A Twist on Carbonara

happy birthday to you
happy birthday to you
happy birthday dear blooooooooog
happy birthday to you

No but seriously, The City Girl Cooks turns one year old today. Of all my past attempts at a blog, this one has made it the longest and I’ve shared with you 132 recipes to date. For those of you playing along at home, that’s 11 different kinds of tacos23 times where I channeled my amazing Italian Nonna, and 27 times that I tricked Nick into going vegetarian (or at least offered a vegetarian alternative).

But more importantly, that’s at least 264 times (we always eat leftovers at least once) in the last year that the two of us sat down to a home-cooked meal. 264 times that we didn’t give in to the amazing restaurant selection in NYC. 264 times that my wallet said “thank you” and my skinny jeans said “no really, THANK you!”

And now for our meal… I LOVE eating pasta carbonara. But let’s face it, it’s not the easiest dish to make. For those of you not familiar, carbonara sauce is made with raw eggs, cheese and cream and you need to be very, very careful not to end up with scrambled eggs or curdled cream. When it’s done right, the texture of carbonara is delicious and it also incorporates one of Nick’s favorite ingredients, bacon. My twist on a traditional carbonara packs all the flavor that you’d expect but without all the complicated egg business.


Eggless Pasta Carbonara

  • 1 pound wide egg noodles, cooked to package directions with 1 cup pasta liquid reserved
  • EVOO
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound bacon, cut into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head radicchio, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil.

While you’re waiting on the water, heat some oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook the broccoli rabe, seasoned with lots of salt and pepper, until the leaves have wilted and the florets are tender. Make sure to use plenty of black pepper in this dish to really get the traditional carbonara taste. When the broccoli rabe is done, set it aside and keep warm.


Now add the bacon into the skillet and cook until it is crispy and all of the fat is rendered out. Drain the bacon on a paper towel lined plate and safely discard of all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.


In the reserved hot bacon fat, cook down the shallot and radicchio until they are soft and start to brown. Again, season with plenty of pepper and a pinch of salt. When the shallots are softened, add in the cream, water, thyme and nutmeg. Bring the sauce to a boil then quickly reduce to a simmer until it becomes thick. Make sure to stir frequently to avoid curdled cream.


At this point, your water should be boiling and your pasta should be cooking. Egg noodles typically take only 6 or 7 minutes. When they’re done, drain the pasta and return it back to the pot. Toss the pasta with the broccoli rabe, bacon, cream sauce and parmesan cheese. When everything is evenly mixed, pour in the cup of reserved pasta liquid and simmer for a few minutes making sure that the sauce is coating all of the pasta and veggies. Serve up nice and warm with some basil on top.



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