Pasta Carbonara with Ham and Vegetables

I still have some ham that I am using up from the last time I cooked a big bone-in ham. I hadn’t made a pasta carbonara in quite awhile, so I decided it was time to make some for dinner.

Carbonara sauce originates from Rome, or Bologna to be more exact. A 96-year old chef named Renato Gualandi is the creator of this creamy sauce made with cream, eggs and hard cheese, such as Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano, or a combination of both, black pepper and basil. It is usually made with cured pork, bacon or ham. Often times it is made with peas too, but this time I added mushrooms and asparagus instead. Gualandi made his trademark dish in Italy, in 1944, using only ingredients that were available in town, mostly coming from army rations of dried foods and a little meat. Gualandi admitted he wanted to create something new, that could bring together Italian and Anglo-Saxon cuisine; with a bit of help from Slovenian culinary tradition (he said to have been inspired by a soup popular in Isdria, callled “spikrofi”), he concocted a sauce for spaghetti made of bacon, cream, processed cheese and dried egg yolk, topped with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper. Gualandi’s velvety signature dish became an overnight sensation that is still enjoyed around the world today.

To go with our pasta carbonara, I heated up some ciabiatta and made an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, using some of my gourmet oil and vinegar I received as a Christmas present My Fun Christmas Loot and of course, a smooth, velvety chardonnay to complete the meal. Delicious!

Carbonara Sauce

6 oz pancetta, bacon or ham, chopped

2 cups cream

2 large egg yolks

1 1/2 cups either Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese, or a combination of both

1-2 tsp black pepper

4 TBSP basil, chiffonade

I also used mushrooms and asparagus, which I cooked first in olive oil, along with the ham. I par cooked the asparagus first, then added it to the mushrooms and ham.

Once the ham, asparagus and mushrooms were cooked, I mixed the egg yolks and cream together and added it to the ham mixture.

Mix thoroughly then add the cheese and black pepper. Cook for just about 1-3 minutes, stirring constantly. You do not want to scramble the eggs. You are really only cooking the sauce long enough for the cheese to kind of melt a bit.

Add this creamy sauce over some cooked angel hair pasta and top it with the basil. I like it nice and peppery, so I added more pepper as a topping as well. This smooth, velvety sauce will literally just melt in your mouth. !Buon Appetito e Mangia!

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for over 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

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