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Cauliflower Carbonara

Cauliflower Carbonara

Cauliflower carbonara is such a tasty dish that requires very few ingredients. It is a quick and easy dish that impresses all the people who eat it.  It’s sauce is made up of egg yolks, garlic and pasta water and it’s flavor comes from the pancetta (Italian bacon). 

I have to confess that I for years would not eat this dish because I thought it would be like eating raw eggs since the egg yolks are actually added at the very end of making this dish. 

Something about it just freaked me out ?  I actually made a dish instead for years called fake carbonara with cream and ham just to get around making the real thing. 

cauliflower carbonara closeup

Then, one day my husband made it for me (he is the one who orders this out at restaurants) and I was amazed at how easy it was and how amazing it tasted!!  You know what, the eggs actually don’t taste raw since they get tempered. They just form a nice creaminess! 

Sometimes with food you just have to “try it” and trust that if a dish has been around that long that it must be darn good!  And it is darn good!  I went from never wanting to make this, to making it almost once a month 🙂

Carbonara is really one of the easiest pasta recipes you can make and one of the tastiest!

Here are what the steps look like when making this delicious cauliflower carbonara recipe:

The very first thing that you want to do is to saute your pancetta (or guanciale if you are using that.) It should be nice and crisp and the fat rendered out which is going to give your pasta so much flavor. If you have made my pasta with pancetta with mushrooms, it is similar to that.

sauteeing the pancetta

Next, you will gather all of your other ingredients and have them ready and set aside waiting for the cooked pasta. Adding the pasta is the very last step in this dish and the heat from the pasta will warm all the ingredients up before serving.

carbonara ingredients

As you can see in the picture above, I have all of my ingredients ready for the cooked pasta. My pancetta is crisped up, my egg yolks are in their bowl waiting to be tempered (I will explain in a second what that is) and my cheese grated.

Tempering your eggs:

When you are tempering your eggs, what you are doing is adding a little hot water at a time to the eggs while you whisk them so that your eggs warm up to the temperature of the food it is going into. If you do not do this step, you will have curdled eggs.

I use pasta water to temper the eggs for the carbonara. The pasta water is starchy and that starch is going to add to the creaminess of the pasta.

The more you make this dish the better you get at mastering it. You start to know just how much pasta water to use in the end or how quickly you need to move during the tossing of the pasta. Just make it and keep making it!

Now because the dish traditionally has no vegetables, I would usually serve one on the side.  But why do that when you can add one to the dish itself! 

Enter the cauliflower:

Cauliflower is perfect for this recipe since it is so mild flavored and it will not compete with the delicate flavors of the carbonara.  It also in my opinion makes it a bit more filling and hearty and I feel better about not just eating a whole plate of pasta.

I like to roast my vegetables in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper and then add it in at the very end.  This makes sure they do not suck up too much of the olive oil pancetta mixture that goes into the pasta.

If you have never made carbonara or Carbonara with cauliflower you must give it a try!!  So good!

carbonara angle

My carbonara pro-tip:

When you cook your pasta, do not use as much water as you normally would when making pasta. I like to fill my pasta pot only 3/4 of the way up when making carbonara because it makes the pasta water more starchy. That starchy water helps make your carbonara extra creamy!

So you like Pasta? You will love these recipes too!

Cauliflower Carbonara

A classic creamy Italian pasta dish with roasted cauliflower
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 box of spaghetti
  • 1 package of cubed pancetta (or guanciale) about 4 oz, I find this in the specialty cheese section of my grocery store or cubed regular bacon
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese or Pecorini Romano, finely grated
  • 5 egg yolks no whites
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 head of cauliflower chopped into small florets
  • salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Pre-heat your oven to 375 degress.
  • Add your chopped cauliflower to a large sheet pan and drizzle with 2 tbsp of your olive oil and mix well.
  • Season with a pinch of salt and roast your cauliflower in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned on edges. When done, remove from oven and set aside. It should be done just before your carbonara is ready so it will stay warm.
  • While your cauliflower is cooking, fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil for your pasta. I like to only fill my pot 3/4 of the way up to have extra starchy water from the pasta cooking. This will help your dish later!
  • While you wait for your pasta water to come to a boil, in a large saute pan, add your remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and your pancetta and cook until the pancetta starts to lightly brown.
  • At this point add your garlic and saute for about 2-3 minutes making sure not to burn it.
  • Once your pancetta and garlic are finished cooking, remove them from the pan into a large bowl and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, add your egg yolks along with a pinch of salt and a lot of freshly ground black pepper (1 tbsp).
  • Set aside for now.
  • Now, your pasta water should be boiling, salt it well and add your spaghetti stirring so it does not stick.
  • Cook until al dente according to the instructions on your pasta box.
  • Now take about 1/4 cup of that water out and bring it over to your egg yolk mixture.
  • Slowly whisk in that hot pasta water to lightly temper your egg yolks so they do not curdle later when added to your hot pasta.
  • Now, scoop out another 1/4 of your pasta water (in case you need it later) and drain your pasta.
  • Here is where you need to work fast!
  • Pour your hot pasta into your large bowl with the garlic and pancetta and quickly pour your egg mixture over the pasta and toss well.
  • Toss for a few seconds letting the pasta drink up the sauce.
  • Add 1/2 your Parmesan and toss again well.
  • Now assess if you carbonara looks dry. It should look creamy.
  • If the pasta seems too dry, add a little of that reserved pasta water and toss it again.
  • Plate into individual bowls with your pasta and top with your roasted cauliflower (that you set aside) and additional Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Enjoy!

Here are some of the ingredients prepared for the carbonara!

Here are some of the ingredients prepared for the carbonara!


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