In its classic preparation, pasta carbonara is immensely comforting but a hair heavier than I typically crave this time of year. To make this fast and easy dish Summer-friendly, I add fresh flavor in the form of grassy, slightly sweet leeks, a hefty handful of parsley, and a few slivers of candy-sweet sun-dried tomatoes.
Thin wisps of leeks take to browning in a bath of bacon drippings magnificently, without tacking on more than a couple minutes of prep time, keeping this fresh take on an old friend firmly in the weeknight-dinner camp. Carbonara purists will balk at this suggestion (if they haven't already), but I've even been known to wilt down a bunch of kale, in ribbon form, alongside the leeks for a bulked-up, greener iteration — consider this recipe a template for experimentation.
Substitute Italian guanciale for the bacon, if you can find it.
3/4 pound thickly cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
3 medium leeks, thinly sliced and cleaned
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup parsley, minced
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for garnish
Freshly cracked black pepper, for garnish
- Add the bacon to a large, straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and the fat has rendered out. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon drippings behind.
- Add the leeks and a pinch of salt to the bacon fat, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks have softened and begun to brown. Remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until al dente.
- While the pasta cooks, whisk the eggs until frothy in a large mixing bowl. Using tongs, immediately add the cooked spaghetti to the eggs, tossing vigorously to coat, and simultaneously cook the egg.
- Add the leeks, bacon, parsley, and sun-dried tomatoes to the pasta, and toss to evenly distribute.
- Divide among the plates, and top each portion with parmesan cheese and pepper.
- Pasta, Main Dishes
- 4-6 servings