Carbonara Cravings

June 1, 2011

Sometimes you just want a good carbonara.

But I’ll be honest with you, I rarely choose to eat a dish where cream is a founding ingredient. It just contains so much saturated fat and kilojoules. So instead, whenever a creamy dreamy pasta craving comes along, I opt for a lighter carbonara. This is actually possible, don’t laugh. Honestly, it’s not such an oxymoron.

In fact, the traditional Italian pasta alla carbonara doesn’t contain cream. Rather, the creaminess comes from eggs. And cheese…quite a bit of cheese actually, but hey, at least it’s not cream.

It also pays to watch your portion and serve your pasta with a big plate of greens. I opted for garlic sauteed silverbeet when I most recently made this dish, and it was the perfect accompaniment. A glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc goes down a treat also.

Is this not the perfect Friday night meal? I think so. With today being the start of Winter, I felt it would be the perfect time to share this warming, comforting pasta dish with you. I really adore this recipe. It’s just so satisfying. It almost makes me want to jump on the couch and fist pump. Sorry, I had to go there…

Tom Cruise’s Spaghetti Carbonara recipe link.

*Alterations I make to this recipe: you’ll note Tom’s recipe calls for “two packets of pasta”. Right. What? So I simply use the amount I always cook for Ben and I (I was halving the recipe and cooking for just us two), which is 220-250g uncooked pasta. I use ~1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and find it to be perfectly adequate. I use lean bacon, and it still works well. Yes bacon fat would be amazing in this dish, but as a rule I just don’t eat such fatty meat. I double the quantity of garlic, because you all know I’m addicted to those beautiful bulbs. And lastly, I make sure to use a good quality parmesan cheese – it makes all the difference.

Heidi xo
  • Lisa June 1, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Oh I love a good pasta carbonara! But it doesn't love me so much. Even the cream-less version doesn't seem to go down so well since I had glandular fever last year (I think my liver is still recovering). But having it with a side of greens is genius, this may be the answer to eating something I love again!

  • Kath (My Funny Little Life) June 1, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I've found that lean cream cheese works very well as a substitute for cream or lots of cheese in pasta dishes. (I don't eat this myself anymore, but I sometimes cook it for my parents or a friend.) 🙂

  • Blithely Unaware June 1, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Hahahahaaa Tom Cruise is a nut bag.

    This Cabonara is about as "creamy" as I would go too but I don't consider an egg cream (like you). Hamish likes to make this the traditional way, we don't have it regularly though because just the thought of the word "cabonara" makes me mental vomit at times.

    I do mine with a rocket based salad I love the peppery taste that cuts into the rich pasta!


  • Heidi June 1, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Lisa – poor thing, glandular is not fun at all! yes, try a small portion & up the greens! 🙂

    Kath – thanks! I like evaporated skim milk too – such a great alternative.

    Blithely Unaware – haha, isn't he 🙂 & yes, the peppery rocket would be amazing alongside this!! Genius.

    Heidi xo

  • Hannah June 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Oh, Heidi. I wanted to be supportive of this. I did. But Tom Cruise makes me feel sick to my stomach…


    (Except I'm really not joking at all about Tom Cruise. Visceral dislike…)

  • Heidi June 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    hahaha, love it, Hannah 🙂 xo

  • Ames June 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Oh excellent! I love white sauce with pasta but always find that they leave me feeling a bit too bloated at the end so this will be a good alternative :). Thanks for sharing!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella June 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Haha it really is Tom Cruise's recipe! I thought you called it that because it made you want to jump up on the couch!

  • Heidi June 1, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Ames – you're welcome! I agree, versions using cream can make you feel very sluggish.

    Lorraine – hahaha, love it. No it is actually Mr Cruise's recipe, who would have known he had such good taste?! I think he was taught it by a top Italian chef, though 😉

    Heidi xo

  • InTolerant Chef June 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I don't think cream has anyplace in a real carbonara at all, it takes away the simple beauty of the dish. I think some good greens are the perfect foil for the balance of richness though.
    I would ALWAYS choose roast lamb over Tom Cruise ANY TIME! (Does anyone still remember those ads?)

  • Hannah June 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Oooh haven't made a carbonara in ages! I usually add in parmesan, eggs and mushrooms. Agreed-it doesn't need cream!
    Hannah x

  • Ashley June 1, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    You know, I really don't remember the last time I would have had a carbonara, I just don't do pasta much (since I'm gluten free) and when I do, I like the tomato based ones better or simply coated in a bit of olive oil…I'm more into my creamy risottos 😉 Still, it sounds perfect in this sort of weather right now! Mmm!

  • Anna Johnston June 1, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    NOoooo, a great carbonara doesn't 'do' cream, its the best taste a truly good carbonara. Really? Tom Cruises recipe….., well, I never 😉

  • leaf (the indolent cook) June 1, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Okay I don't know about the Tom Cruise thing… but I can definitely get behind a cheesy carbonara. 😉

  • wholesomecook June 2, 2011 at 5:58 am

    I'm with you on a lot of things Heidi, but when it comes to a carbonara, I like mine cream creamy. Although sometimes I cook it with milk, add loads of cheese and cook it down… So I guess we meet halfway on this one. 🙂 I might try the egg yolk one day in my milky version too.

  • Heidi June 2, 2011 at 7:05 am

    InTolerant Chef – haha, yes I know the ad you're talking about!! 🙂

    Hannah – mmm mushrooms are a great addition too 🙂

    Ashley – yes I can imagine not having that much pasta when you're GF. & I do love a tomato based or olive oil dressed pasta too 🙂

    Anna – hehehe, I know, I know, I was shocked when I first saw it too!

    leaf – I hear you 😉

    wholesomecook – that's ok, we can't agree on everything 😛

    Heidi xo

  • chutneyandspice June 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Thats so interesting, I had no idea that the cream was not a vital ingredient, that would definitely make the whole thing lighter, I often feel like I could pop after a carbonara. This looks great, will give it a go for Mr ChutneyandSpice as it is his favourite.

  • Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets June 4, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Looks yummy! I've been curious to try carbonara for a while.

  • Heidi June 4, 2011 at 9:26 am

    chutneyandspice – I hope you like it! I much prefer my carbonara sans cream.

    Xiaolu – do try it, it's really yummy 🙂

    Heidi xo