Anyone close to me knows my love affair with cheesy noodles of all kinds. There is no food on this earth more satisfying to me than a heaping bowl of pasta with butter, salt and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. That said, I’ve always been intrigued by the creamy dreaminess of spaghetti carbonara in all its eggy glory. However, since I eat kosher style, the bacon-flecked dish has remained off limits.
After trying a heavenly mushroom carbonara from Il Conte near New York’s Meatpacking District,* I was inspired to create a quick yet delectable version that I could whip up anytime I get a craving (aka multiple times a week). Since I don’t regularly keep mushrooms in my fridge, the version I created contains only basic ingredients that I always have on hand: spaghetti, butter, olive oil, egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, salt & pepper.
Prepare for the fastest, easiest route to guilty pleasure heaven.
guilty pleasure spaghetti carbonara (meat-free)
1/2 lb. dry spaghetti
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Olive oil, used throughout
A heaping 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil. Pour in a large glug of olive oil before adding the spaghetti to prevent noodles from sticking.
2. The texture is key to this dish. Cook pasta until al dente, approx 7-8 minutes, or until the center is just cooked through and the noodle is firm but not hard.
3. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1 1/2 cups of the starchy pasta water. This is going to be the base of your carbonara sauce.
4. Drain the pasta and add the tablespoon of butter and a glug of olive oil to the bottom of the pot over medium-low heat. Mix them together until they start to bubble (~45 seconds) then pour the reserved pasta water into the pot. Add a few shakes of salt and a couple grinds of pepper to the bubbling mixture–you can always add more to taste later. Let the mixture reduce slightly (2-3 minutes).
5. Meanwhile, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk until blended. Set aside.
6. Once the sauce has reduced slightly, toss in the spaghetti and evenly coat it with the sauce. Reduce to lowest heat and slowly mix in the egg, constantly stirring the pasta to prevent the egg from turning into a scramble. If bits of the egg start to harden, remove the pot from heat and continue stirring. Mix in Parmegiano Reggiano and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
7. Serve with more freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano over the top, kick back and ENJOY! (Preferably with a large glass of wine and Sex & the City reruns.)
peace, love & neon,
*The mushroom carbonara from Il Conte was a special request. Order the carbonara with spaghetti and ask for mushrooms instead of bacon. Vegetarians, you can thank me later.