the original recipe and the most famous variations

Carbonara is one of the best known and loved first courses of the Italian culinary tradition, both in our country and abroad. But also one of the most revisited, with results that are sometimes original and inviting, sometimes bizarre. On the occasion of Carbonara Day which is celebrated on April 6thlet’s take stock of the original carbonara recipe and on its innumerable variants.

Carbonara: the original recipe (with bacon and without cream)

What are the ingredients for a perfect carbonara? Pasta (preferably spaghetti), eggs (preferably only the yolks), bacon, pecorino cheese and a sprinkling of ground pepper.

But the carbonara it hasn’t always been like this. Let’s not be surprised if even today one of the doubts that grips those who cook this dish for the first time is “is it made with bacon or bacon?” Or: “Is cream needed or not?”
There is a reason: originally carbonara was really prepared with bacon and, for many years, there was also cream to make it so creamy.

In the first recipe that appeared in Italy, published in 1954 in the magazine “The Italian kitchen“, pasta carbonara had among its ingredients pancetta, egg, garlic e growled.

Only in 1960, for the first time, the pork cheek takes the place of bacon: the version is that of the Roman gastronome Luigi Carnacina, who inserts it in his recipe book “The big kitchen“.

Even the addition of the panna, later abandoned, is due to Carnacina. However, the true admirer of this ingredient in carbonara is chef Gualtiero Marchesi, who in his 1989 recipe, published in the series “Italian regional cuisine“, he puts it in plenty: a quarter of a liter for 400 g of spaghetti!

Pasta alla carbonara as we know it today, therefore, is a relatively young dish, despite its worldwide fame: it was born in the early 1990s. Before then it changed skin several times, enriching itself with the most disparate ingredients: in addition to cream, wine, parsley, onion and peppers.

And, even now that the recipe for real carbonara is now official, there are many chefs, food bloggers and simple enthusiasts who enjoy playing with this dish, bringing the most imaginative variations to the table. Here are the most interesting.

Vegetarian, vegan, seafood, without pasta: the many variations of carbonara

Among the most popular reinterpretations is the vegetarian carbonarawhich provides the vegetables instead of bacon and has many seasonal variations: the zucchini carbonaraOf artichokescon asparaguscon i broccoliOf pumpkin or with i mushrooms. As an alternative to vegetables, you can also prepare vegetarian carbonara with legumes, for example with peas.

There is also one vegan carbonara. Just mix tofu, pickled sauerkraut, nutritional yeast, miso, paprika, black pepper and vinegar to obtain a smooth and silky sauce which, in color and creaminess, recalls the mix of eggs and pecorino of the classic carbonara.

Another tasty variant is the seafood carbonara, which combines eggs with fish such as salmon and tuna, but also with shrimps, clams, mussels and squid. Or, how about a mountain reinterpretation Tyroleanwith lard and mountain cheese?

Among the most daring reinterpretations is the carbonara without pasta: the sauce is the classic one based on bacon and pecorino cheese, with or without eggs, but the dish is transformed into risotto, pizza o Carbonara Corn Mush.

In short, there is only one carbonara DOC, but there are truly an infinite number of variations. The choice is yours: do you want to celebrate Carbonara Day with the classic recipe or take advantage of this anniversary to experiment in the kitchen?

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