Five-Minute Fettuccine Carbonara

It was snowing sideways outside my window, the kids were (amazingly) at school, and it was lunchtime.  Didn’t feel like a sandwich and didn’t have time to make soup.  After surveying my refrigerator I decided to make a super fast, super simple Fettuccine Carbonara.  Now before you stop reading, thinking I’m one of those chef-foodie-types who likes to try to pass off something really fancy and/or complicated as ‘so easy!’— just give me a chance.  When I say five-minute, I mean five-minute.  No prep time whatsoever.  Granted I’m simplifying carbonara a tiny bit, but come on, I’m making lunch for myself on a Wednesday afternoon, not having a dinner party.

“Carbonara”  is Italian for ‘in the style of the coal miner’.  What it really means is hot pasta tossed with a raw egg, pecorino romano or parmesan cheese, pancetta (or guanciale, another type of cured pork), and black pepper.   The egg creates a creamy sauce, which most people mistake for actual cream.  In Italy they do not use cream in their carbonara sauce (nor do I), but here in the U.S. restaurants often do.  It is also not unusual to see onions and/or peas in a pasta carbonara dish. 

This works best if you have fresh pasta, because it cooks in only a few minutes.  I happened to have one little uncooked ‘nest’ of fresh fettuccine left over in my fridge.  I don’t normally keep that handy, but you could do this just as easily with regular dried fettuccine (just add some minutes of cooking time).   Everything else I used are staples in my kitchen.  An egg.  Grated cheese (I buy a blend of pecorino romano and parmesan).  Frozen peas.  Pre-cooked bacon (which I keep in my freezer because I buy the kind without nitrates/preservatives). 

It’s simple.  Pasta and peas in salted boiling water.  Egg and cheese whisked together in a bowl.  Bacon defrosted in microwave for 30 seconds.  Toss hot cooked pasta/peas with egg/cheese and stir in the chopped up bacon.  Grind a little black pepper on it if you’d like.  That’s it.  Really.  Five minutes.  Don’t be freaked out by the raw egg either (like I was the first time I had it in Italy).  The pasta is hot enough to cook it to the point where you won’t get salmonella.  Trust me.  I’ve been eating it for MANY years this way and there is no problem with it. 

Make this for yourself or for your family.  I only have one warning—-eat it immediately.  This does not “hold” well.  Egg sauce needs to stay creamy, not start to cook and harden on the pasta.  Five minutes to make, eat immediately.  Yum.

Five-Minute Fettuccine Carbonara

Serves 1 (double as many times as you need)

1 serving of fresh (or dried) fettuccine ( 2-4 ounces)

1/4 cup frozen peas

1 egg

1 tablespoon grated cheese (pecorino romano, parmesan, or a combo of the two)

1 strip pre-cooked bacon

salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta and peas in a small pot of salted boiling water.

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg and the cheese in a bowl, and heat the bacon in the microwave (usually less than 20 seconds).  Chop up the bacon and set aside.

When pasta is tender, drain and toss immediately with egg/cheese mixture.  Add bacon and toss again.  Top with some freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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One Response to “Five-Minute Fettuccine Carbonara”

  1. Melissa Burress Says:

    I knew I’d be home late, so I printed out this recipe for my partner to make on a busy weeknight. It was so simple, and kids are always a wild card. Well, all three loved the dish. It’s going in our “keep” pile of recipes!

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