Pesto Carbonara with Crispy Pancetta
Can you do me a favor? Can you just go ahead and meal plan for this weekend to make this amazing Pesto Carbonara? After all, it is World Carbonara Day on Saturday, April 6!
You’re really doing yourself a favor because it’s such a great pasta dish. Combining pesto and carbonara is a no-brainer once you think about it. Fresh pesto has bright herbal flavors and carbonara has a smooth, silky sauce. Combine them and you get the best of both things!
I’m in complete pasta mode right now because next week I’m headed to Pebble Beach with Barilla to attend the Qualifying Event for the Pasta World Championships at the Food and Wine Festival. I’m just a litttttle bit excited. If I run into Chef Morimoto I’ll try to not act like a teenage schoolgirl.
I’ll be posting on the ‘gram pretty much constantly while I’m there including a specific look at all of the delicious Barilla pasta dishes that get made! So be sure to follow along if you’re a pasta fan.
But yes. Back to this carbonara! This is not something you need to go to Pebble Beach to try. It’s done in about 30 minutes and tastes like a champion dish in my humble opinion!
Be sure to join the celebration this weekend by taking the #CarbonaraChallenge. Either try out this Carbonara recipe (or your other favorite version) and post the dish on social media with the hashtag #CarbonaraChallenge. For more inspiration, head over to Barilla.com – I can’t wait to see what you create.
1) To make pesto, add basil leaves, ½ cup parmesan cheese, pine nuts, olive oil, black pepper, and salt to a food processor. Process until the mixture is in a paste, scraping down the sides a few times to make sure it’s evenly processed.
2) Make the carbonara sauce by whisking together 2 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, and 1/3 cup of the finished fresh pesto. Set aside.
3) Add pancetta to a large skillet over medium low heat. Cook pancetta slowly to render out fat until it gets very crispy, probably about 10 minutes of cooking. Remove pancetta from skillet.
4) When pancetta is near done, drop your spaghetti into salted boiling water. Cook according to package until spaghetti is al dente. Be careful not to overcook the pasta as it will continue to cook a bit in the sauce.
5) Add 1/3 cup of fresh pesto to the skillet with the rendered fat from the pancetta. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pesto shouldn’t brown at all but should become very fragrant. Add half of the crispy pancetta back to the skillet.
6) When spaghetti is al dente use tongs to transfer it straight from the pasta water to the skillet. Don’t drain the pasta in a colander. Using tongs, stir the pasta into the pesto mixture.
7) Add ½ cup of hot pasta water to the skillet and remove skillet from heat. Then pour in carbonara sauce and toss vigorously with tongs. Continue to toss spaghetti with the carbonara sauce for a minute or two. If the sauce appears dry at all, add more hot pasta water by the ¼ cup.
Serve pesto carbonara immediately garnished with extra pesto dollops (you should have some leftover) and topped with the reserved crispy pancetta.
Pesto Carbonara Sauce
I like to make fresh pesto for this carbonara so the flavors are really bright. It’s worth it! I added half of my parmesan cheese to the pesto and saved half for the carbonara sauce.
When you have your pesto processed, add about 1/3 cup of it to the carbonara base (egg yolks, whole eggs, and parmesan cheese). Whisk that all together!
Making the Pesto Carbonara
Meanwhile, crisp up about 4 ounces of pancetta in a skillet. Start the pancetta out in a cold pan over low heat so it slowly renders and gets really crispy.
When the pancetta is done, remove it briefly from the skillet and add in a 1/3 cup of the fresh pesto. Cook that for a minute or two in the rendered pancetta fat and then add half of the pancetta back in along with the cooked and drained spaghetti. I recommend pulling the pasta straight from the water with tongs and adding it to the skillet. Don’t drain it in a colander.
Now for the important part! Remove the skillet from the heat! Direct heat on your skillet will make the eggs curdle in the sauce.
Once your skillet is off the heat, add the sauce. Use a few pasta strands to clean out the bowl for the sauce! You want it all!
Toss the pasta with the sauce for a minute or two to combine. The results are a super-creamy and delicious pasta carbonara.
Whether you are a pesto fan or a carbonara fan, you will love this one!
Pesto Carbonara with Crispy Pancetta is a must-make for Carbonara Day this Saturday!