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Carbonara is many home cooks’ go-to dish on nights when they just can’t even. We thought the indulgent, savory pasta couldn’t possibly be improved upon, but we stand corrected. Behold: Sungold spaghetti carbonara from Susan Spungen’s new cookbook, Veg Forward: Super-Delicious Recipes That Put Produce at the Center of Your Plate.
If you’ve never tried this type of tomato, now’s the time—they’re at peak ripeness in the summer. “Adding Sungolds, the golden-orange cherry tomatoes that have a lot more sweetness than the red ones, brings sunny color and bright acidity to the rich pasta dish,” Spungen writes.
If you can’t find traditional guanciale (a cured meat made from pig jowl), pancetta (cured Italian bacon) or regular smoked bacon will work in its place. As for the Sungolds, regular cherry tomatoes will do in a pinch. Just be generous with the black pepper: “The name ‘carbonara’ is a reference to the abundant black pepper that looks like bits of carbon, so it should be visible when you present the dish,” explains Spungen.
Taken from Veg Forward: Super-Delicious Recipes that Put Produce at the Center of Your Plate by Susan Spungen. Copyright © 2023 by Susan Spungen. Used by permission of Harper Celebrate.
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ cup (1 ounce) finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
½ cup (1 ounce) finely grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
4 ounces guanciale or pancetta, cubed
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 pound dried spaghetti
1 pint Sungold tomatoes, halved
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks until just combined. Whisk in the cheeses. Set aside.
2. Place the guanciale or pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the cubes are crisp on the outside and much of the fat has rendered out, 10 to 12 minutes. Scoop out the meat and drain it on a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the salt. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions until al dente. Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
4. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the reserved fat. Quickly stir in the egg mixture, tossing to coat the pasta evenly. Add the tomatoes, season with plenty of black pepper and toss again. Add a little of the reserved pasta water (start with ¼ cup) to thin the sauce to the desired creamy consistency. Add salt to taste if needed. If the sauce needs thickening, heat the pan, gently tossing, until the sauce clings to the pasta. Add the reserved meat.
5. Divide the pasta among bowls. Top each serving with a few grinds of pepper and serve immediately with more grated cheese on the side.