Day 168: Spaghetti Carbonara with Caramelized Onions

I had promised Mike spaghetti carbonara for fathers’ day, and since the seed had been planted I knew he wouldn’t be able to shake the craving until he had some.

Spaghetti carbonara is what Mike orders whenever we go out for pasta; not the healthiest choice, which is why he doesn’t eat it very often, and why I rarely make it. The only reason I’m somewhat skilled at the art of spaghetti carbonara is because it’s what they had me make at my audition for It’s Just Food, as well as at several subsequent auditions at which they paired me with various co-hosts to test our chemistry (no pressure). So I have made many a pot.

Now, most people, including Mike, are under the impression that spaghetti carbonara is loaded with butter and cream; not so. That’s fettuccine Alfredo you’re thinking of. S.C. is made with bacon, eggs and grated Parmesan cheese, and is truly one of the fastest pastas you can make; one that takes only as much time as boiling the spaghetti. Which made it a good choice tonight, when the 6 o’clock news came on and I still had no idea what was for dinner.

The idea is that the egg cook and the cheese melt with the heat of the pasta if you toss them together as soon as you drain it; it’s a good idea to set aside some of the starchy pasta water before you do, so that you can add some back if you want a saucier S.C. (Some like theirs dry, I like mine a little saucy.) Some recipes call for just the egg yolks; I add the entire egg (why not?) and tonight, as I stood impatiently poking at the spaghetti, trying to get it to boil faster, I spontaneously sliced the leftover half of a purple onion and sauteed it in the leftover bacon drippings, scraping up all the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. It turned out to be a very good idea. I’ve done this with mushrooms in the past with huge success; I’m not sure why I never thought of onions. There are not many better combinations out there than eggs, bacon, onions and cheese.

Not very summery, but quick and tasty, and doable when it looks like there’s nothing to make for dinner.


Spaghetti Carbonara


June 16, 2008

  • Makes: Serves 4.


1 lb. (ish) spaghetti

4-8 slices bacon, chopped

canola oil (optional)

a chunk of onion or handful of mushrooms, sliced (optional)

3 large eggs

1/2-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

freshly ground black pepper - lots


1In a large pot, boil the spaghetti in lots of water until done to your liking. Before you drain it, set aside about a cup of the cooking liquid.

2Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp; set aside. If you like, discard the drippings and add some canola oil to the pan instead to saute your onion or mushrooms, if you're adding them. In a small bowl, stir the eggs together with a fork.

3As soon as the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the warm pot. Pour the eggs overtop, and add the cheese, bacon, drippings if you like, and sauteed veg if you made some. Toss with tongs, adding a little reserved pasta water if you like, until the eggs are cooked (they will be after a minute as long as the pasta is still steaming) and the sauce is as saucy as you like it. Season with pepper (the cheese is probably salty enough).

4Serve immediately.


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11 comments on “Day 168: Spaghetti Carbonara with Caramelized Onions

  1. pauline
    June 16, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Thanx Julie, thats what I will make for dinner tomorrow. I am often staring into the freezer waiting for the inspiration to hit me and its 5pm. You are definately taking the pressure off.

  2. Isabelle
    June 18, 2008 at 6:08 am

    It’s looks so good! I love Spaghetti Carbonara! I will make your recipe this week. Merci.

  3. Isabelle
    June 18, 2008 at 6:42 am

    It looks so good! I love Spaghetti Carbonara! I will make your recipe this week. Merci.

  4. Cathy
    June 18, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Hey there,

    So…my best friends ex-boyfriend used to make this and I loved it! That said..seeing he is now in the ex category…not so much anymore! So thanks for the recipe!


  5. Mary
    June 18, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I made this for my hubby & 2 year old son. This was the first supper my son has ever asked for seconds, tried to feed himself and was licking his plate when he was done. It was fabulous!! Thanks for this great recipe…we will definately be making it again in the future.

  6. Tim
    June 23, 2008 at 6:11 am

    Yum, and nice one making it without cream. I love how the egg makes it taste like fresh pasta with a texture you can only get from dried.

  7. kristy
    August 26, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I really like your recipe :)
    You might also like to try the below.


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