Spaghetti Carbonara with Garlicky Greens

Spaghetti Carbonara with Garlicky Greens

It’s been an exciting week so far. First of all, I got to spend the weekend visiting with my family in Fredericksburg, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Sadly I missed the big snow in NYC (!!) but still got plenty of cold, drizzly weather–enough to wear a scarf and hat and wish desperately for a fireplace. Second, The Yellow Table was featured on Gourmet Live as their Food Blog of the Week!! I am so honored, and excited that more people are getting the chance to read the blog. And last, but certainly not least, I created a dish the other night that might be my favorite food ever: spaghetti carbonara with garlicky greens. (Just ask Brandon–I had to stop myself from going back for a third helping.)

I made this dish on a cold, rainy night when I was craving something warm and cozy–preferably involving bacon. And what goes better with bacon than eggs and cheese? Voilà–pasta carbonara! I love this simple pasta dish, where crisp bacon is tossed with hot spaghetti, a raw egg, and some Parmesan. The heat of the pasta gently cooks the egg into a silky sauce (thinned with the pasta cooking water) that coats each strand perfectly.

As much as I love this not-so-healthy combo, I wanted to add some greens into the mix. I had some kale in the fridge, though I could have just as easily used spinach or Swiss chard. After cooking the bacon, I sautéed some shallot and garlic, then added the greens. I quickly sautéed them, seasoned them with salt and pepper, then tossed them into the pasta. It was truly a match made in heaven. I still got that bacon-egg-cheese combo I was craving, but the whole wheat spaghetti and vitamin-packed greens nudged the dish out of the totally indulgent category.

It was not a yellow table evening, I confess. We curled up on the couch with with bowls of pasta, glasses of red wine, and watched a movie. Funny enough, three and a half years ago, also on a rainy night, I made spaghetti carbonara for Brandon (and his old roommate Joel). It was the first thing I ever cooked for him. And he–the former non-veggie eater, confessed that the dish was even better now with the greens. My, how marriage changes a man!


Serves 4

It’s important to boil the pasta and prepare the other ingredients at the same time–you want to combine everything when the pasta is piping hot. Prep everything while the water comes to a boil: cut the bacon, mince the garlic and shallot, etc. Once the pasta goes in the pot, start cooking the bacon, then the greens. Then toss everything together as soon as the pasta is al dente.

1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti
4 ounces (about 5 slices) nitrate-free bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1/2 bunch of greens (kale, spinach, Swiss chard), rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for topping

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. (The water should appear cloudy from the salt.) Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 to 9 minutes. Drain pasta, saving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan until crisp,about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease.

Sauté the garlic and shallot for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant and softened (do not brown). Add the greens and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Whisk the egg and the Parmesan together in a small bowl. Season with pepper.

Add the drained pasta back into the pot along with the egg and Parmesan mixture. Toss quickly with tongs, adding some of the pasta liquid to thin the sauce out a bit (I used about 3 tablespoons), until all the pasta strands are coated evenly. Add the bacon and the greens, tossing well.

Season with additional pepper, if desired, and serve in bowls with freshly grated Parmesan.

  • Nate

    Hooray! Finally something mas siempre that I'm going to make!

  • Anna Watson Carl

    Let me know how it turns out :)

  • Lisa Waller


    My husband and I made the spaghetti carbonara last night-SO good! I’ve made several other recipes off your blog (shrimp, pancakes, couscous salad) but this was by far our favorite – even better the next day for lunch. ;)

    You’re doing such a great job!


    • annabwatson

      Lisa! I am SO glad you liked this recipe!! It’s one of my favorites – usually in cooler weather – but I suppose you can eat it year-round! Thanks for your encouragement with the blog – it’s definitely lots of fun, and especially when I hear feedback like yours!! xoxo

  • Amy

    I made this last night and it was just what I was looking for – a healthier twist on carbonara! I have been getting weekly organic produce deliveries which at this time of year include a lot of greens, so I was desperate to use up some chard as something more than a side dish. Here are the changes I made: increased the egg to 1 1/2, increased the chard to one full bunch, chopped up the chard stems and sauteed them with red onion (didn’t have shallots) and garlic, then added a little pasta water and steamed until the stems were tender. Then I added the greens. Also, I added a little pasta water to the egg mixture to temper the eggs before adding it to the pan. I will be making this again!

    • Anna Watson Carl

      Hi Amy! Thanks for your feedback. Glad you liked the recipe – always nice to figure out how to add more greens into a dish! I’ll have to try adding in the stems next time.

  • nate poekert

    Making this tonight for my friends in Dallas! Will let you know how it goes :-)

    • annawatsoncarl

      Nice!! I just made it the other night (by candlelight, as we have no power!) and I would recommend saving about a cup of pasta water just to be safe. For the recipe above, I used over 1/2 cup of pasta water to make the sauce creamy. It’s one of my favorite cold weather dishes :)

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My name is Anna Watson Carl. In a word, I love food, I love France, and I love throwing dinner parties. Over the years, I've worked as a personal chef, taught cooking classes, edited cookbooks, written for magazines, tested and styled recipes, and traveled whenever opportunity has arisen. But at heart, there's nothing I love more than sharing a meal with friends around the yellow table.

For me, cooking has always been a way of life. As a (mildly precocious) ten-year old, I planned and prepared a four-course Valentine's dinner for my parents, birthing a lifelong passion for dinner parties. That was just the beginning. I've been cooking ever since, whipping up souffles at a chateau in Burgundy, searing filet mignon for a wealthy client's dog (bizarre, but true), butchering ducks for confit de canard in Paris, baking the night shift in Nashville, and bathing the floor of my NYC apartment in turkey brine...the story continues.


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