Summer Vegetable Carbonara

Summer Veggie Carbonara

This Summer Vegetable Carbonara is a quick, delicious meal featuring zucchini and summer squash. It's is easy and fast to make!

Normal pasta carbonara is really good. I mean it’s pretty hard to go wrong with bacon, a creamy sauce, and good cheese. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved on! Especially since we are in the summer months when there are so many delicious fresh veggies. This Summer Vegetable Carbonara takes advantage of some of the most available produce.

Not only does it happen to be delicious, but it’s also very quick and easy once you conquer the carbonara sauce! Start to finish is definitely under 30 minutes assuming you’re halfway competent with a knife.

Starting the Ingredients for this Carbonara

The original version of this dish starts by noting that it’s really important to get the best ingredients you can. I would definitely agree. If you can get some good thick bacon, really nice fresh eggs, and colorful summer veggies, this dish will be very good.

Squash and Zucchini for carbonara.
Not too thin!

As far as prep goes, start by chopping up your bacon along with your summer zucchini and squash. When you’re chopping your zucchini and/or squash, try to chop them into about the size of the penne pasta. It gives the dish a great texture if everything is roughly the same size.

Also, chop up your bacon into cubes. You want to start the bacon in a cold pan and cook it over low heat.

Instructions on Making the Carbonara Sauce

The only other thing you need to prep before you get started cooking is the carbonara egg sauce. Just combine your egg yolks (you can save the whites in the fridge for an omelet or something), along with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese in a medium bowl and whisk it together until it’s smooth. Add a pinch of salt and pepper also.

Egg sauce for carbonara.
Magic mixture!

Some people prefer to add a dash of heavy cream to carbonara sauce. You can do this if you like, but it isn’t actually necessary and traditional Carbonara doesn’t have it. 

Finishing the Carbonara

This vegetable carbonara comes together pretty fast. The thing that takes the longest is probably boiling the water for the pasta actually. So be sure to get that started pretty early. Cook the pasta al dente in a large pot of salted water.

To start the carbonara though, add your bacon to a large pan preferably with high sides. Eventually, everything will be in this one large pan. Cook the bacon on low heat and start it in a cold pan. The fat should render out pretty quickly though because it is chopped.

Bacon cooking in skillet.
Low and slow = Crispy.

You want the bacon to be browned and really crispy.

Remove the bacon but leave a few tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan.

The next step involves just a bit of timing. The trick with the veggies is to not overcook them. Squash and zucchini can get a bit mushy if you cook them for more than a few minutes. So ideally you would start them when your pasta is 2-3 minutes from being done.

Squash and Zucchini in skillet.
Still crispy!

When you’re ready, add all the veggies to your pan with a pinch of salt and pepper and a few sprigs of thyme if you want. Stir this all around so the veggies get coated nicely in all the bacon oil.

This will smell pretty delicious. You might have people knocking on your door.

Saucing the Pasta

The key to making a good carbonara is to make sure you don’t add the egg mixture to a super-hot pan otherwise it’ll just over-cook the eggs and you’ll have scrambled egg pasta. Scrambled egg pasta isn’t the best thing in the world.

So here’s how to work it. When your pasta is done, drain it and reserve about a cup of the cooking water (most important step) from the pasta. I just ladle out a cup or so of liquid right before draining.

Then add your drained pasta straight to the pan with the veggies. Stir that all together really well so the pasta is mixed in with the veggies.

Next, turn off the heat. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the egg sauce and whisk it together. Then add all your egg mixture to the skillet along with the vegetables off the heat!

Adding sauce to the skillet for carbonara.
Off the heat!

The residual heat from the pan and the pasta will be more than enough heat to cook the eggs, but it won’t cook them quickly so they’ll stay nice and creamy. If it looks a little dry, add back some of your pasta water. The starch from the water will help thicken the sauce and make it even creamier.

I added probably 1/2 Cup of pasta water back to my version. The key is to keep stirring once you add your egg mixture!

The sauce should coat the vegetable carbonara but shouldn’t clump at all.

Summer Vegetable Carbonara

The only other trick to this meal is to eat it as soon as possible! Add the bacon back in as well as some of your leftover cheese right on the pasta as you serve it.

Ideally, your veggies will still have a tiny bit of crunch to them, the bacon will be crispy and salty, and the sauce will be rich and creamy.

This is a really simple dish that can really impress!

My Summer Vegetable Carbonara Recipe

Summer Vegetable Carbonara

Summer Vegetable Carbonara

Penne pasta mixed with summer squash and zucchini and tossed with a traditional carbonara sauce. One of my favorite pastas!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 medium zucchini or squash
  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus garnish
  • 4-6 slices thick bacon
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper


  • Chop your zucchini and fresh squash into half-circles about the size of the penne pasta.  Also chop your bacon into cubes.
  • Whisk your egg yolks, 1/2 Cup Parmesan, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a separate bowl.  Set aside for later.
  • Cook Penne according to the box.
  • In a large pan with high sides, cook bacon over medium-low heat until very crispy and brown.  Remove bacon from pan.
  • When your pasta is done, drain it and reserve about 1 Cup of cooking water.
  • Add veggies to the pan with the bacon grease along with a few thyme sprigs if you want and some salt and pepper.
  • Cook the veggies over medium-high heat for just a minute or two.  Any longer than that and they’ll get soggy and mushy.
  • Combine pasta with veggies and add your bacon back in.
  • Whisk 1/2 cup of pasta water to the egg sauce. Turn off the heat and slowly add in your egg yolk mixture, stirring furiously while you add it.  If you do this over the heat, your eggs will just cook, but they should into a creamy sauce if the pan isn’t on direct heat.
  • If it looks too thick, add a bit of reserved pasta water to make the sauce thicker.
  • Sprinkle carbonara with more cheese and serve immediately.


Calories: 488kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 20gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.05gCholesterol: 229mgSodium: 768mgPotassium: 496mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 577IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 163mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Carbonara Recipes, Italian Recipes

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Substitution ideas for this Vegetable Carbonara

Here are some great substitutions for this vegetable carbonara recipe. 

  • While I like to use penne pasta for this version, traditionally classic carbonara uses spaghetti so you can substitute that or something like bucatini. 
  • Feel free to add more summer vegetables like asparagus, mushrooms, or peas. If you use mushrooms, saute them separately as they will take longer to cook. 
  • Make this a vegetarian carbonara by leaving out the bacon and adding mushrooms for some savory flavors. 
  • Use pancetta or guanciale rather than bacon to change up the pork flavors in the carbonara. Guanciale is actually the traditional pork product in carbonara if you can find it. 
  • Add some pecorino cheese to the egg sauce to maximize the cheesy flavors. 
Summer Vegetable Carbonara with Squash and Zucchini

Reheating the Vegetable Carbonara

Carbonara doesn’t reheat super well if I’m being honest. It’s best if you can make just enough and eat it right away! If you do have leftovers though, the best way to reheat carbonara is gently over the stove.

To do this, add about a cup of water to a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the water is simmering, add the carbonara and let it gently reheat as you stir. The sauce should come back to life.

Here are a few other great recipes to try!

24 Responses to “Summer Veggie Carbonara” Leave a comment

  1. Looks good to me! And it will look even better as soon as those garden fresh squash are ready. In the meantime, I've got my local asparagus in hand! :)

  2. This looks fabulous! I can't wait to try it. Bacon, cheese, pasta and a little veg to lighten the load. Yum. Can it be made with whole wheat pasta?

  3. Looks good. Never thought of adding vegetables to a carbonara, but why not? Oh, and you’re right to recommend serving the pasta right away. Carbonara waits for no man! I would add another suggestion: serving the pasta on warm plates (think fettuccine alfredo). A warm plate helps keep creamy sauces creamy for a longer time.

  4. That looks so good! I haven’t made carbonara in a long time, but I think I’ll need to try something in this vein.

    Any thoughts on other vegetables to use, besides zucchini? My partner won’t touch them. I bet fresh peas would be great. Maybe finely-chopped greens?

    1. Yea… I reckon any fresh summer veggie could work well. I’d say stick with the heartier vegetables. Asparagus, peas, squash, etc. Spinach or any greens might just become really wilty and not the best.

      Let me know how it goes!

  5. I was surfing around looking for something to do with my zucchini and squash and this was AWESOME!! I think it will definitely find a home in my “keepers” file! Thanks!

  6. So… I’m no chef, my boyfriend is a much better cook! But I want to make this so here’s my (probably silly) question, how much is a pound Of pasta? Is this dry weight, cooked weight? What is this in cups? Help!

  7. Hi, Nick! I have a dairy free grand daughter and was thinking I might be able to avoid putting the Parmesan into the egg mixture and just using it all at the end of cook after I pull a portion for her. Do you think that would fundamentally change that sauce? I don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs! She has a non dairy cheese substitute I could add to her portion. How would you go about this?

    1. Hi Kim! I think I would add an extra egg to the sauce and leave out the cheese entirely (just add it later to servings if you want). add 1/2 cup of hot pasta water to the eggs to temper them a bit, whisking it in, and then add that sauce to the pan with pasta and veggies OFF the heat. Should work well! Good luck!

  8. Love the previous version of this recipe that had 2 yolks, 1/4 cup parm, and 1/3 cup cream for the sauce. Relying on this updated version, the “sauce” came out as a solid lump (and why wouldn’t it with only egg yolks and a 1/2 cup cheese) and I had to rescue it with 2% milk. Please update the pictures if something major like that changes. Glad I found the old version of this recipe using the wayback machine.

    1. Sorry you didn’t like the update sir. I think you maybe missed updated step to whisk 1/2 cup of pasta water into the sauce. It makes it creamy and smooth without cream or milk. Traditional carbonara doesn’t include cream which is why I updated it. Of course, you’re welcome to add it though! Cheers!

  9. I’m sure this is delicious, but the heading before the recipe says it’s vegetarian, which it’s not. (“It’s easy to make and vegetarian!”) As a vegetarian I was disappointed! I do appreciate your many other vegetarian recipes, though.

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