Tagliatelle carbonara is has to be one of my favorite, comforting, easy go-to meals. Despite it's simplicity in ingredients, it has complex flavor and is always and elegant enough dish to make for company.
This recipe is going to be made as a classic-style carbonara (or almost, anyway). That means no cream! We're going to craft the sauce using gently cooked egg yolks, parmesan cheese, guanciale (if you can find it, pancetta if you can't), and freshly cracked black pepper.
Tagliatelle carbonara is comfort food at it's finest. With simple ingredients, this classic dish becomes greater than the sum of it's parts.
- Why You're Going to Love this Recipe
- What is Carbonara?
- Where Did it Come from?
- What Pasta Shapes Can you Use?
- What is Tagliatelle?
- How to Make Tagliatelle Carbonara
- Tips and Tricks
- Storage and Reheating
- What to Serve with Tagliatelle Carbonara
- Wine Pairings
- Other Amazing Pastas to Try
Why You're Going to Love this Recipe
- It will transport you straight to the streets of Rome. And honestly, who doesn't want that?
- You likely have all the ingredients to make it in your fridge/pantry right now.
- It's indulgent but in the best way possible. And it's also so comforting!
- It's easy! The trickiest part is making sure you don't overcook the egg yolks, but don't worry, we're going to walk through that (and also, if you DO overcook them, don't worry about it. I've done it MANY times in my day).
What is Carbonara?
Carbonara is a delicious pasta dish made with eggs, cheese, bacon or pancetta, and black pepper. It's super easy to make and only takes a few simple ingredients, but it tastes like it came straight from a fancy Italian restaurant.
There are a few reasons why carbonara is so darn tasty. First of all, the combination of creamy eggs and salty, crispy bacon is pretty much unbeatable. The eggs add a rich, velvety texture to the pasta, while the bacon adds a nice crunch and a ton of flavor. Plus, the black pepper gives it a little bit of a kick and helps to balance out the richness of the dish.
All of these flavors and textures come together to create a dish that's truly irresistible. And let's be real, who doesn't love a big bowl of carb-y goodness covered in creamy sauce and topped with crispy bacon? It's the ultimate comfort food and is sure to satisfy any craving.
Where Did it Come from?
Carbonara is believed to have originated in Rome, Italy. It has a bit of a mysterious history, with different stories about how it came to be. Some people say that it was invented by Italian charcoal workers, who would cook it over a fire using eggs and bacon as the main ingredients. Others say that it was created during World War II. Apparently American soldiers stationed in Italy introduced bacon and eggs to the local cuisine.
What Pasta Shapes Can you Use?
You can use any kind of pasta you like for carbonara! It's traditionally made with spaghetti, but you can really use any type of pasta you have on hand.
I personally love tagliatelle for this one - it's still long and slightly thinner than many, but wide enough to have a toothsome bite.
Some other good options include linguine, fettuccine, or even short pasta shapes like penne or rigatoni. You can even use gluten-free pasta or pasta made from alternative grains like quinoa or chickpeas if you're looking for a healthier option.
The key is to choose a pasta that will hold onto the creamy sauce and let the flavors of the bacon and eggs shine through. Whatever you choose, just be sure to cook it al dente according to the package instructions so it has a nice firm texture and doesn't get too mushy when you toss it with the sauce.
What is Tagliatelle?
Tagliatelle is a type of long, flat pasta that's similar to fettuccine. It's typically made with egg and flour, and has a slightly more delicate texture than spaghetti or other thicker pastas.
Tagliatelle is a traditional pasta shape from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and is often served with rich, meaty sauces or creamy cheese-based sauces.
It's a versatile pasta that works well with a variety of flavors and is perfect for soaking up all the delicious sauces in a dish.
There are tons of different ways to eat tagliatelle. In this recipe, I actually prefer a dried pasta, as it keeps the pasta nice and al dente, a key factor in this dish.
Of course, you can also make your own, or use fresh as well. Really, it's all going to be delicious.
Tagliatelle carbonara is made with just a few simple ingredients, but they come together to create a dish that's full of flavor and totally satisfying. Here are the main ingredients you'll need to make carbonara:
- Pasta: Any kind of pasta will work, but I love the shape and texture of tagliatelle in a carbonara!
- Bacon, pancetta, or guanciale: These salty, fatty meats add a ton of flavor to the dish and provide a nice crunchy texture.
- Eggs & Egg Yolks: The egg yolks add a creamy, velvety texture to the sauce and help to bind everything together.
- Cheese: Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano adds a salty, tangy flavor to the dish.
- Pasta water: this is optional, but depending on the past you use (and how much), you may need it to thin the sauce out a bit. Just make sure you have some on hand!
- Black pepper: A little bit of black pepper adds some heat and helps to balance out the richness of the dish.
How to Make Tagliatelle Carbonara
Cook your pasta according to the package instructions until it's al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, fry up some bacon or pancetta in a pan until it's nice and crispy.
In a small bowl, whisk together some egg yolks and grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it (but reserve ¾ C of water) and add it to the pan with the bacon. Add the pasta water as well.
Turn off the heat and pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta and toss everything together until the sauce coats the pasta. Adding the sauce at the very end is key, because it's going to prevent the eggs from overcooking.
If you need to thin out the sauce, add some pasta water, a little bit at a time, until you get the desired consistency.
Sprinkle on some black pepper, give everything a final toss, and serve it up hot.
That's it! This simple recipe will give you a classic carbonara that's creamy, rich, and totally delicious. You can also add some chopped fresh parsley or basil for a pop of freshness, or sprinkle on a little extra cheese on top for an extra-indulgent touch. Whatever you do, just be sure to enjoy it while it's hot and savor every last bite.
Tips and Tricks
Use good-quality ingredients: Carbonara is a simple dish, so it's important to use the best ingredients you can find. Look for bacon or pancetta that has a good amount of fat and a nice smoky flavor. Use freshly grated cheese for the best taste.
Cook the pasta al dente: This is especially important when making carbonara. You want the pasta to have a firm, toothsome texture that can hold up to the creamy sauce.
Don't let the eggs scramble: When you add the eggs, be sure to work quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. You want the eggs to cook just enough to thicken the sauce, but not so much that they become rubbery.
Add the cheese off the heat: Grated cheese has a tendency to clump up when it comes into contact with heat, so it's best to add it to the carbonara off the heat. This will help it to melt smoothly and evenly into the sauce.
Adjust the seasoning to taste: Carbonara is all about balance, so be sure to adjust the seasoning as needed. Add a little extra black pepper or cheese if you think it needs it. Or a sprinkle of fresh herbs for a pop of freshness.
Storage and Reheating
If you have leftovers of carbonara, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat them, you can either microwave the leftovers in a microwave-safe dish. Or heat them up on the stovetop in a pan over medium heat. Just be sure to stir the carbonara constantly as it heats up to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
You may need to add a splash of milk or pasta water to the pan to help thin out the sauce. Once the carbonara is hot and creamy, you can serve it up and enjoy!
What to Serve with Tagliatelle Carbonara
- A simple green salad: A crisp and refreshing green salad is a great way to balance out the richness of the carbonara. Just toss some mixed greens with a simple vinaigrette and a sprinkle of cheese.
- Roasted vegetables: Roasted vegetables are a great way to add some color and nutrients to the plate. Try roasting up some asparagus, bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes and serving them alongside the carbonara.
- Garlic bread: Who doesn't love a little garlic bread with their pasta? Slice up a baguette, spread on some butter and garlic, and toast it up in the oven.
Chardonnay: A full-bodied Chardonnay with a nice balance of oak and fruit can be a great match for carbonara. Look for a wine that has a creamy texture and buttery flavors, as these will complement the creamy sauce.
Pinot Noir: A medium-bodied Pinot Noir with bright fruit flavors can also be a good match for carbonara. The acidity in the wine will help to cut through the richness of the dish. The fruity flavors will complement the bacon and cheese.
Cabernet Sauvignon: If you're in the mood for a bolder wine, a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon could be a good choice. Look for a wine with ripe, dark fruit flavors and a hint of oak. The tannins in the wine will help to cleanse the palate and balance out the richness of the carbonara.
Merlot: A medium-bodied Merlot with soft tannins and ripe, fruity flavors could be a great match for carbonara. Look for a wine with notes of blackberry, cherry, or chocolate, as these will complement the bacon and cheese in the dish.
Sangiovese: This Italian grape variety is known for its bright acidity and red fruit flavors, making it a good match for carbonara. Look for a Chianti or a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, both of which are made with Sangiovese and would be excellent choices for this dish.
Zinfandel: If you're in the mood for something a little bolder, a full-bodied Zinfandel with spicy, jammy flavors could be a good match for carbonara. Look for a wine with flavors of black pepper and berry.
The best wine pairing for carbonara is a matter of personal preference, so feel free to experiment and find the wine that you like best with this delicious dish.
Other Amazing Pastas to Try
- 8 oz tagliatelle
- 1 C reserved pasta water
- 6 oz pancetta or chopped bacon, or guanciale
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ C Parmesan cheese grated
- freshly ground black pepper
- basil or parsley for garnish (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions until it's al dente.
- Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium heat and add the bacon or pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and cheese.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the pan with the pancetta.
- Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta and toss everything together until the sauce coats the pasta. If you need to, add some pasta water to loosen up the sauce.
- Sprinkle on some black pepper and chopped fresh herbs, if using.
- Serve the carbonara hot, with extra cheese on top if desired.
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