Pasta carbonara was one of the many food epiphanies of my years in culinary school. Bacon? Egg yolks? Parmesan? Yes, please. But for all of it’s deliciousness, I didn’t realize how much I loved it until I made it at home. Many of my favorite dishes cook up pretty differently in my home kitchen…since I was always used to working in a big, professional kitchen (sometimes with a dishwasher, if I was really lucky). At home, so many things seemed overly complex or even tedious. But not carbonara.
It’s short ingredient list and simple (all in one pot) technique made me even happier at home than it had at work. And while the recipe is classic, I can never leave well enough alone…so I messed with it.
I’ve had a plethora of cherry tomatoes all summer long…and when I’ve had them for a few days and haven’t figured out how to use them, I toss them in olive oil, throw in some smashed garlic cloves, salt and pepper, and roast ‘em up (if I want to eat ‘em just like that, I’ll also throw in some herbs and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar). Since I had so many of these little gems laying around, they’ve found their way into everything…including a batch of carbonara. I loved the result – the tomatoes only made the bacon taste better (if that’s possible), and the whole thing just tasted a bit more like summer. I gobbled it up, and my surplus of tomatoes right along with it.
roasted tomato carbonara
1/2 basket cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 oz pancetta or thick cut bacon, diced
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
two handfuls of thin pasta (bucatini, linquine, or spaghetti)
1. In a small bowl, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast in a 300 degree oven until tender, juicy, and lightly caramelized, 20-30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 7-9 minutes.
3. Mash the mixture or roughly puree it with an immersion blender. Some chunks are ok, the idea is to release all of the juices. Set aside.
4. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook until the fat renders and the meat is crisp. Remove the pan from the heat and reserve.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and parmesan together. Whisk in the cooled tomato mixture.
6. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 7-9 minutes. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water (1/4 cupish).
7. Transfer the warm pasta to the pan with the pancetta, and immediately pour the egg mixture on top. Begin to toss immediately. The heat of the pasta should cook the yolks and warm the sauce. If necessary, warm the mixture over low heat, tossing constantly until the sauce is thick and warm, 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and lot of pepper.