With the addition of cauliflower, carbonara suddenly goes from a weekend indulgence to a weeknight staple. Our recipe breaks the classic dish into six simple steps—here, the creamy sauce is poured over just-cooked pasta so the egg yolk can continue to cook and the pepper-flecked sauce can cling to every noodle. Check out the video and recipe below to learn how to master this recipe at home.
Starting bacon in a cold pan makes for a crisper, less greasy consistency, as the fat has more time to “render,” or melt away.
To separate an egg, over a small bowl, crack the egg in half and allow the white to drain into the bowl, and the yolk to settle in one half of the shell. Carefully transfer the yolk back and forth between the two halves of the shell until all the whites have dripped off. Place the yolk in a separate small bowl. Repeat with the second egg.
2 pounds cauliflower
⅛ ounce chives
3 ounces baby spinach
5 ounces bacon
8 ounces milk
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
12 ounces spaghetti
12″ large pot
12″ large high-sided pan
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Rinse all produce. Cut cauliflower into ½-inch florets, discarding tough stem. Thinly slice chives. Roughly chop spinach. Cut bacon crosswise into ¼-inch strips.
In a large high-sided pan, arrange bacon in a single layer, then turn heat to medium (see Recipe Tip). Cook until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 12-13 minutes.
While bacon renders, separate 2 eggs and place yolks in a small bowl (see Recipe Tip). Add milk and half of Parmesan to bowl with yolks and whisk until fully combined. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper, then set aside. Discard egg whites or save for a breakfast scramble.
Season boiling water generously with salt. Add cauliflower and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Once tender, using a slotted spoon, transfer directly to pan with bacon, keeping water boiling. Add spinach to pan with bacon over medium-high heat and season with ⅛ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower begins to crisp and spinach wilts, 3 minutes more.
When water from cauliflower has returned to a boil, stir in spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain. Stir cooked spaghetti into pan with bacon and vegetables over medium-high heat. Add reserved pasta cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until pan sauce clings to noodles.
Remove pan from heat and immediately pour cheese sauce over spaghetti, stirring quickly until sauce is thick, 2-3 minutes. Stir in chives, then taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. Divide carbonara among 3 plates, garnish with remaining Parmesan, and dig in!