Pasta Carbonara

Easy and Elegant Valentine’s Day Dinner: Pasta Carbonara

This recipe and photography was provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at

Sophia Loren famously said “I’d much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size zero.” I think of her every time I make this dish. Rich, salty, creamy and hot all the way from your mouth to your tummy, make this dinner when you feel a need to splurge on something fabulous.

It’s that easy: The pasta water is very important in this recipe as it extends the eggs, keeping them from scrambling in the hot pan. I direct you to reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and then direct you to add it in increments as the pasta is tossed with the sauce. Depending on the pasta you may only use some of the water or may use it all. If the pasta is not creamy and lovely after adding the directed amount go ahead and add a few more tablespoons until it looks perfect. After all, you are the boss of the pasta.

Two Brothers Gelato

It’s a good idea to drink Italian wine with Italian food and this classic pasta would taste great with a medium bodied Chianti. Look for Riserva on the label as it generally denotes a higher quality. My pick is Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico. Aged for two years, this wine always satisfies. While you’re at the store, pick up a carton of Two Brothers Gelato for dessert. Pick from chocolate, salted caramel, bananas Foster or indulge in a few flavors. Now, that’s amore!

For more easy and elegant Valentine’s Day dinner ideas, check out my other favorite meals using Heinen’s Prepared Foods.

Pasta Carbonara

Serves 2


  • 3 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano or pecorino Romano cheese, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt plus 2 teaspoons, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 to 10-oz fresh linguine (I like Ohio City Pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

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  1. Fill a 3-qt saucepan with water and heat it over medium-high heat, covered, until it boils.
  2. While the water comes to a boil, on a large cutting board chop the bacon and transfer it to a small bowl. Mince the garlic and parsley and grate the cheese (if necessary) in separate piles. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with 1/4 tsp salt and few grinds of pepper.
  3. When the water boils add the 2 teaspoons salt and pasta to the pot. Stir once or twice to keep the pasta from sticking and cook according to package directions. Test the pasta a by pulling out a piece and taking a bite. It’s better to be a little undercooked versus overcooked as the pasta will continue to cook in the sauce.
  4. Using a heatproof measuring cup, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and whisk a few tablespoons into the egg mixture, reserving the rest. Drain the pasta in a strainer in the sink and run cold water over it for a second just to stop the cooking. It should still be hot.
  5. Return the empty hot pan to the heat and add the oil and chopped bacon. Cook until it’s crispy, about 3 minutes. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to the egg mixture and remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Add the garlic to hot pan and cook it off heat for about 20 seconds or until it is fragrant. It should sizzle.
  7. Return the drained pasta to the pot, return the pan to medium heat and toss it in the hot fat using tongs for about 1 minute to reheat it.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly pour in the egg mixture, the 1/3 cup cheese and half the remaining water and toss to blend and finish cooking the ingredients thoroughly, about 1 minute. The egg should thicken into a sauce.
  9. Taste it for seasoning and add more water, salt or pepper if it needs it. Continue to toss for another minute over low heat if it isn’t hot enough.
  10. Heap the pasta onto heated plates and garnish the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons cheese and parsley.
  11. Serve with chianti and gelato for dessert.

Pasta Carbonara

Click Here to Print the Full Recipe for Pasta Carbonara.

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