Carbonara with Roasted Cauliflower


We LOVE carbonara, who doesn’t? When we were in Rome a few weeks ago, we paid a visit to Checco Er Carettiere in Trastevere, where I believe they make the best carbonara in any restaurant in town, the best amatriciana too. It was a reminder of how much we love it, even though I prepare mine in a very different way, adding onions, not using any cream and using the whole egg and not just the yolks. I also use short pasta and not spaghetti, making them, in the end, two totally different plates of pasta, but equally delicious.

To stray even further from tradition, Romans love tradition. I thought I would add some cauliflower to the mix, adding a healthy element to the pasta. I roasted the cauliflower first and mixed it into the pancetta and onion mix minutes before tossing it all together, I didn’t want the cauliflower to get mushy. It was a nice flavor element, adding a bit of texture as well. Delish.

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Carbonara with Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, clean an cut into small florets
  • 150 grams (5oz) guanciale or pancetta (we used regular bacon when we were in the States)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 eggs (one per person, one for the pot)
  • 1/2 lb of rigatoni
  • 4s tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated parmiggiano reggiano or pecorino romano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put cauliflower in a roasting pan, drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt, toss. Roast, turning once or twice, for 20 minutes or so, until cauliflower just starts to soften.

In the meantime, fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Cut pancetta into small slices, chop onions. Heat the pancetta in a heavy skillet over medium-low, as the bacon starts to sizzle, add onion. When onions starts to turn a golden brown add the oil and turn the heat to low. The onions and the pancetta will caramelize, but you don’t want them to burn.

In the meantime crack eggs into a small bowl, add pepper to taste and beat until well blended. You want them to be at room temperature by the time you add them to the pasta.

Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Add the roasted cauliflower to the pancetta and onion right before you drain the pasta.

When the pasta is perfectly al dente, drain the pasta, but leave the flame on at a low flame. Return pasta to the pot on the low flame and add the onions, pancetta and cauliflower. Toss to cover the pasta and add the egg. Stir the pasta for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the egg starts to curdle. As soon as the egg starts to curdle it is ready to serve.

Serve with grated parmiggiano or pecorino. Many people add the cheese to the beaten eggs, but it is more delicate if you add the cheese when the pasta has been plated.

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One Year Ago: Cape Town

Three Years Ago: Flounder and Fennel filled Mezzelune with Salsa di Pistacchi & Mantecato of Flounder and Fennel over Gemelli with Pistachios

Four Years Ago: Chili and Honey Chicken Legs with Braised Collards

Five Years Ago: Pork Loin Stuffed with Figs, Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread & Morningside Farmers Market, Atlanta GA


~ by italicious on March 28, 2014.

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