I’ll never forget that first evening in Italy last summer when I twirled a strand of perfectly al dente pasta, closed my eyes and bit into the most perfect carbonara, its silky creamy sauce playing against the salty pancetta in a way that can only be described as magical. Maybe it was the fact that I was sitting in a vineyard in Italy, or maybe it was actually the perfect pasta carbonara recipe passed down from the chef’s nonna, but I’ve been chasing those flavors ever since.
Obviously I feel passionate about my pasta, so I could not be more excited to share that I’ll be working with Barilla over the next several months on a project that I can’t spill the beans on just yet, but suffice it to say that I am GIDDY. Y’all are actually not going to believe where I’m going and what I’ll be doing as part of this #pinchme collaboration. More on that later, but for now: have you heard the news?
World Carbonara Day is on April 6th, and I’m celebrating by perfecting my own springtime spin on the classic.
I’m switching up the original by adding more veggies and bright bursts of green that scream “spring”. Scroll on to see how my Lemony Pasta Carbonara with Peas & Zucchini came together – I know you’re going to love it, and I have a feeling it’s going to be in my dinner party rotation from now until August. And if you want to put your own spin on pasta carbonara, guess what? You can join the celebration by taking the first ever #CarbonaraChallenge! Just make your favorite Carbonara recipe, post the dish on social media and challenge your friends to take the #CarbonaraChallenge, ’cause guys – we’re spreading love this month, and pasta = love. Don’t question it.
For the uninitiated, the traditional carbonara recipe is as follows: egg, Pecorino Romano cheese, guanciale or pancetta, and freshly ground black pepper are combined with al dente spaghetti for the perfect creamy pasta dish of your dreams. I’ve got to admit, this carbonara is a little more “me.” Y’all know I’m all about the occasional indulgence, but for something I’m going to make on a more regular basis, I like a pasta that packs plenty of veggies. In order to keep the texture of the pasta, I threw in some zucchini noodles that mimic the pasta strands but increase the veggie content so that with each forkful, you can twirl a little green along with your Barilla Collezione Bucatini. Frozen peas are my favorite shortcut veggie for throwing into pasta – no chopping required, and they add color, nutrients, and my kids love them in everything.
Have y’all had bucatini? It is hands down my favorite of all the pasta shapes, and I realize that’s a bold statement. In a nutshell, bucatini looks like thick spaghetti from the outside, but the inside is hollow, meaning it fills up with sauce. Nope, you’re not dreaming! And when you’ve got a sauce as delicious as this carbonara, you want to make sure you get those flavors with every single bite. I was really excited when I learned that Barilla’s Collezione (their artisanal pasta shapes) includes a bucatini with the same al dente texture that feels homemade and allows sauce to cling to every bite.
One interesting thing to note about this dish is that the sauce is incredibly creamy… but there’s no actual cream in the dish! Egg yolks keep it just the right of thickness (the whites make things a little too watery, so save those extras for tomorrow’s omelette).
Be sure to add the sauce and the extra cheese gradually while you toss the pasta together in the final stage. It helps everything blend together so that the silky sauce lightly coats each perfect strand of pasta.
Can’t wait to hear what y’all think of this recipe! If you make it for the #CarbonaraChallenge, be sure to tag me so I can see your creation, and hop right over here for lots more recipe inspiration.
- 1 box Barilla Bucatini
- 1 medium zucchini, spiralized
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup pecorino Romano cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup milk
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- In a bowl, mix egg yolks, 1/2 of the cheese and milk. Season with salt. Set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of cooking water.
- Meanwhile, sauté zucchini and peas in olive oil for 30 seconds. Turn off heat.
- When pasta is ready, add to zucchini and peas in the pan.
- Slowly add egg yolk mixture while tossing, along with 2 tablespoons of cooking water.
- Add remaining cheese while tossing, then top with mint, lemon zest, juice, a big pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper, to taste.
- Give it all another big toss, then serve and enjoy!
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