Meatless Spaghetti a la Carbonara

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By Emily Paster

Today's post is sponsored by Safest Choice Eggs as part of its March Meatless Meals Party. Before March 31st, enter to win one of two Safest Choice Prize Packs, worth over $450, containing a $200 Amex gift card, a 10″ inch Lodge Round Fry pan, a set of Sur La Table mixing bowls, a year's supply of eggs and more.

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite dinners was spaghetti a la carbonara, a traditional Roman pasta dish made with eggs, bacon and cheese. My dad, brother and I were thrilled when our mother made this indulgent treat. It was only years later that I realized that spaghetti a la carbonara must have been one of our working mom's desperation dinners: something she could whip up in the time it took for the pasta water to come to a boil. That's how quick this dish comes together. Rather than cooking pasta and making a sauce, you simply make spaghetti and toss the hot noodles with an uncooked mixture of beaten eggs, cheese and chopped bacon. Nothing to it.

Did you just pause and say to yourself: "Uncooked eggs tossed with spaghetti? Is that safe? Is that even good?"  Well, first, let me reassure you that pasta a la carbonara is indeed very, very good. The heat of the pasta lightly cooks the egg mixture so it becomes creamy and coats the strands of spaghetti. Bacon and grated Parmesan add salt and smokiness. With some cracked black pepper on top, spaghetti a la carbonara is a simple yet delicious one-dish meal.

But is the heat from the just-cooked pasta really enough to cook those raw eggs to a safe temperature? Or is spaghetti a la carbonara one of those beloved classic dishes that the risk of salmonella has killed? Honestly, I am not sure if the traditional way of preparing spaghetti a la carbonara is safe and I would not want to take a chance on that with my family. Fortunately, I don't have to. To make a recipe like this one for spaghetti a la carbonara, where the eggs are very lightly cooked, I rely on Davidson's Safest Choice Eggs, which are pasteurized in the shell. The gentle water-bath pasteurization process eliminates the risk of salmonella from undercooked eggs without changing either the egg's flavor or its nutritional value.

I love working with Safest Choice Eggs because I don't have to rush and wash my hands or disinfect the counter-top if I spill some egg white. And I can taste my cooking as I go, even if it contains raw eggs. As for eating raw cookie dough? Don't deny your kids this classic treat. Make your baked goods with Safest Choice Eggs and let your kids eat all the dough they want. Okay, maybe not all the dough they want or, if they are like my kids, you might end up with no actual cookies.

You may also be thinking to yourself: "Bacon? How many times has Emily told us — not in a complaining way, of course — that she does not have any pork products in her house? On second thought, maybe she was complaining about it." Listen, I agreed to not bring pork into my home as part of an elaborate marital compromise. I never said I wouldn't complain about it. But I digress. You are absolutely right that we don't have pork in our home and that means no bacon in my spaghetti a la carbonara. So I make a meatless version.

While it may not be entirely traditional, meatless spaghetti a la carbonara has its place, particularly during Lent when observant Catholics forego meat on Fridays. The truth is, you don't really even need the bacon. The eggs provide plenty of healthy, low-calorie protein and the combination of cheeses make this dish flavorful enough to stand on its own.  I made my meatless spaghetti a la carbonara even less traditional with the addition of peppery arugula and sweet grape tomatoes. But I have no regrets. The vegetables add nice pops of color and turn this pasta dish into a well-rounded meal. A well-rounded meal that comes together in the time it takes for your pasta water to boil, no less!

Whether you are keeping Meatless Monday, observing Lent or simply trying to eat less meat for health reasons, eggs are such a terrific option. They provide that protein we need to stay full and satisfied without a lot of fat and calories.

Safest Choice Eggs is encouraging us all to try more meatless meals this month with its March Meatless Meals party. Food bloggers like me are using Safest Choice Eggs to create family-friendly meatless dinner recipes and Safest Choice Eggs is giving away two amazing prize packs worth over $450. Enter before March 31st on the Safest Choice website for a chance to win one of these prize packs which include (1) $200 Amex gift card, one (1) Lodge Round Fry Pan 10", one (1) Sur La Table® Red Mixing Bowls, one (1) Flexible Nylon Spatula, one (1) Eggs cookbook, and 52 coupons for a free dozen of Davidson's Safest Choice® Eggs. And check out the recipe round-up for lots of great meatless meal ideas!

Meatless Spaghetti a la Carbonara

  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 3 Safest Choice Eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB melted butter
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup grated hard cheese like cheddar or Gruyere
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2.5 oz. baby arugula

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions for al dente. (I used De Cecco pasta and my spaghetti took ten minutes.)
  3. While the spaghetti is cooking, combine the milk, Safest Choice eggs, olive oil and melted butter in a large bowl and beat together.
  4. Add the grated cheese to the egg mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain it and immediately add the hot pasta to the bowl with the egg and cheese.
  6. Working quickly, toss the pasta to coat it with the egg mixture. The heat from the pasta will lightly cook the eggs.
  7. Add the arugula to the pasta and allow the heat to wilt the leaves.
  8. Add the halved grape tomatoes and toss well to combine.
  9. Place pasta in a large serving bowl and serve hot. Pass additional cracked black pepper and grated Parmesan.

 

 

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