Friday, February 13, 2009


I've subscribed to Cooking Light from its inception and I am almost always pleased with the recipes I try. From time to time I consider canceling my subscription because I feel there are too many non-cooking articles, but then I think of the good dishes that I would miss. This recipe, which I've tweaked over the years, comes from that magazine.

I adore spaghetti carbonara, but almost never order it out. The reason is that most restaurants serve up something that is almost an Alfredo sauce and call it carbonara. Carbonara sauce does not have any cream in it. It is, in fact, a dish eaten in the wee hours of the morning, a breakfast dish almost. The "sauce" is the egg and cheese mixture that cooks from the heat of the pasta. It is a perfect food in my mind. This version is made healthier by reducing the amount of sauce and adding in some vegetables. This is not a pasta that reheats well, in my opinion, so the fact that it makes 4 small or 2 hearty servings is a good thing.

While we're on the subject of pasta, let me say that I have tried a plethora of whole grain and whole wheat pastas. I would rather give up pasta than eat any of them. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Spaghetti Carbonara with Leeks and Pancetta - Serves 4
8 oz uncooked spaghetti
1/2 cup (2 oz) finely grated cheese (I love locatelli and asiago, but parmigiano will do)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
2 oz pancetta, chopped
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 2 large leeks)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs chopped parsley
1/3 cup pasta water

Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the water.

As pasta is cooking, cook the pancetta in a large, nonstick skillet until crisp. Add the leeks to the drippings and saute 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more.

Combine the cheese, pepper, salt, egg, and egg white in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add the reserved 1/3 cup of cooking liquid, tempering the egg mixture by stirring constantly with the whisk.

Add the pasta and the cheese mixture to the pancetta, leeks, and garlic; reduce heat and cook for 1 minute, tossing well to coat. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

If you haven't used pancetta before, it is an Italian bacon that is cured with salt and spices. It is more readily available in supermarkets these days, prepackaged in the deli section. If you can't find it, you can substitue 6 slices of chopped, center-cut bacon, but it won't have the same wonderful flavor.

I like to have a glass of a good Barolo or Chianti with this dish and remember: red wine is good for your heart. Mangia bene!


  1. Your Carbonara looks yummy! There's an award for you on my blog. :)
    You know how you always get a strange word verification when you leave a comment on my blog? I just got "mellypot" when I went to post this comment. LOL. Good thing there wasn't an "s" before the word.

  2. This looks delicious Arlene. It's nice to have a lighter version of an old favorite.

  3. How perfect. I was just making my shopping list and was thinking about carbonara. The recipe I was looking at didn't seem right to me, so I thought to myself "Arlene probably has a good recipe on her blog". Now that is some good timing!

  4. I just had carbonara for the first time a few months ago and my hubby put a fried egg on top. It was surprisingly yummy.

  5. Yeah I've always been leary of ordering it for the same reasons. This sounds delicious though!

  6. I've tried the Whole Wheat pastas. YUK!! They are just not the pastas I know and love. The "flour like flavor is gross!" I keep trying it every now and then, with different sauces, etc, but the results are still the same.
    Love and Hugs, Peg


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