Pasta carbonara is a classic Italian dish. It is easy to make and full of flavor. It offers up crispy prosciutto, a cheesy egg sauce, and tender pasta. In this version, I included mushrooms and fresh spinach and added a poached egg to top it all off. It’s a hearty weeknight meal that is sure to satisfy all pasta lovers.
The eggs add richness and body to the sauce. However, care must be taken to ensure that it stays smooth and not clumpy. Make sure you remove the pasta from the heat before you blend in the carbonara sauce. If you do not you will be eating chunks of scrambled eggs. I also let my eggs come to room temperature before whisking them into the sauce.
Prosciutto is to Italian dishes what bacon is to American food. It is the go-to food that punches up the flavor in any dish. If you prefer, you can easily substitute bacon. You can use any mushroom you have on hand. I really like to cook with mini bellas, but in this dish, I used oyster mushrooms since I had some on hand. Same with the pasta, whatever you have on hand is great. My two favorites when making pasta carbonara are pappardelle and bucatini to really soak up all that delicious sauce.
- 12 ounces Pappardelle pasta
- 1 tablespoon course sea salt
- 1 cup mushrooms sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 7 ounces prosciutto
- 1/2 cup fresh spinach
- 8 eggs 4 for the sauce & 4 to poach
- 1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese + more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon freshly grind black peppercorns
- Fresh basil optional
- Bring 16 cups of water to a boil. Add salt to the boiling water. Add pasta to the boiling water and stir occasionally with care. Cook, uncovered, 9 to 10 minutes or until al dente.
- While the pasta cooks prepare the carbonara sauce. Add the mushrooms to the pan and toss with olive oil. Cook over medium high heat. Do not stir allow to cook about 4-5 minutes without disturbing.
- Cut the prosciutto into small pieces and add to the mushrooms. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, or until the prosciutto is crispy. stir in the spinach. Cook for an additional minute.
- In a medium bowl add four eggs, pecorino romano cheese, and the black pepper. Whish quickly until you have a creamy sauce. The mixture should be thick. Set aside.
- Using a pasta spoon, or spider, drain the pasta and place it in the skillet mushroom and prosciutto mixture to season well with the prosciutto.
- When the pasta and prosciutto start to sizzle in the pan, turn off the heat and remove the skillet from the burner.
- Add 1 -2 tablespoons of vinegar to the salted pasta water. Return water to a rapid boil then reduce the heat to low. Using a wooden spoon swirl the water to make a vortex. Carefully add one egg to the middle of the vortex and cook the egg for 3 minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and dab it on a paper towel to remove any excess water. Poach the remaining three eggs.
- Now add the whisked eggs and pecorino cream to the hot pasta and stir. You want a silky consistency. If the sauce is too runny, add some grated peorino cheese. If too sticky or dense, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of water.
- To plate the pasta carbonara use a ladle and a fork to create a pasta nest and place it on a plate. Place a poached egg on top and season with freshly ground black pepper and grated pecorino romano to taste.