I love pasta.  And this is one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes. In fact it’s one of my Top Ten Favorites from O Taste & See Some More! Here’s why:

  • it’s quick and easy
  • it’s a one-dish meal–all you need is a side salad to complete the meal
  • kid’s love it…it’s creamy and cheesy with ham or bacon; what’s not to love?
  • by “dressing it up” just a bit, it makes an easy “company” meal
  • I can make it “stretch” if one or two extra people show up for supper
  • I generally have the ingredients on hand so I can make it for supper tonight if you just decide to “drop in”


The word “carbonara” means “charcoal”…but exactly why it’s called that–Pasta alla Carbonara–is anybody’s guess. Some think it was a meal often enjoyed by coal miners. Seems probable  My kids aren’t coal miners but it sure was a favorite with them when they were growing up.

When we arrived in Italy, my son–then ten years old–ordered it a restaurant and was totally shocked to find how different the “real deal” was from Mom’s Pasta alla Carbonara! Instead of nice, lean ham or crispy bacon, it was made with big pieces of pancetta–Italian “bacon” which is generally just sauteed a bit, and certainly not brown and crisp like our bacon. Italians, traditionally put raw, uncooked egg in the sauce. The thought is that the hot pasta will “cook” the egg. But it never “cooked” it quite enough to my liking so I just decided to leave out the raw egg and add a bit more cream.

I made a small batch last week…just enough for my good husband and I, to give you the idea. The recipe can easily be doubled, or tripled, or quadrupled. I’ve made it for gangs of people–youth groups, birthday parties, etc. You just need…

Parmesan, butter (or oil), ham (or bacon), real cream (or Half and Half or evaporated milk)


Oh, and pasta!

I stir everything together…

….and then let it set for about a few minutes–covered–so the pasta absorbs up that lovely cream and melts the yummy cheese. Oh goodness, I can’t wait!

I made a salad while the pasta was cooking, now I’ll just set the table…

Time to eat!



Pasta alla Carbonara is on p. 149 of O Taste & See Some More!

Pasta alla Carbonara

Yield: Serves 4; can easily be doubled

Pasta alla Carbonara


  • 6 strips of bacon fried and crumbled or 1/4-1/2 C. (35-70 g) diced ham
  • 2 T. soft butter or oil
  • 1 C. (250 ml) cream or evaporated milk
  • 3/4 C. (60 g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb. (500 g) spaghetti, twists, etc.
  • salt and pepper


  1. Cook pasta according to directions on box.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together in a bowl the butter/oil, cream/evaporated milk, bacon/ham and cheese.
  3. As soon as you drain the pasta, pour the milk mixture over the hot pasta and mix well. Let set a few minutes to absorb milk and cheese. If it is too dry, you can add a bit more cream/milk.


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