No Recipe Required: Pasta Primavera Carbonara

September 8, 2014  •  Easy Entrees, One Dish Meals, Pasta & Pizza

pasta primavera carbonara-1This is a short lesson in how to cook without a recipe. It’s how I cook at home for dinner most nights. It’s how I learned to really become a cook, to break free from recipes, to become comfortable with creating.

You start with what you have on hand: some cauliflower from my CSA weekly harvest, some leftover cut up peppers from the engagement party for my son, some green onions and Swiss chard ready to harvest from my garden, some pancetta from my freezer that I need to use before the next pork belly arrives, and eggs, because I over-ordered from my farm.

I sautéed the veggies along with the pork belly in just a touch of extra virgin olive oil until the veggies were soft and most of the fat had rendered from the pancetta. (Note if you want the pancetta very crispy, you’ll need to sauté it separately first.) I added a touch of white wine and let that cook off, then added some torn basil, and then I tossed it together with hot, cooked pasta, a bit of the pasta cooking water, and a couple of egg yolks that I stirred in quickly so they wouldn’t curdle. Finish it with some fresh grated cheese and that’s what I call Pasta Primavera Carbonara. I know some of you aren’t comfortable cooking this way, so here’s a recipe just in case!

Pasta Primavera Carbonara
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cut up peppers (any color)
  • 2 cups sliced Swiss chard
  • ½ cup sliced green onions
  • ½ cup cauliflower florets
  • 2-3 ounces pancetta, diced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced basil
  • 4 ounces dry pasta, any shape, cooked, cooking water reserved
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the vegetables and pancetta and cook until most of the fat is rendered from the pancetta and the vegetables are slightly soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until it is nearly evaporated. Stir in the basil and remove from the heat.
  2. Add the hot pasta, a bit of the pasta cooking water, and quickly stir in the egg yolks so they don't curdle. Return to the heat for just a minute to heat together. Add cheese and serve hot.


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