Zucchini Carbonara with Parsnip ‘Pancetta’

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zucchini carbonara with parnsip pancetta recipe
David Frenkiel/Little Green Kitchen

Ever feel like cooking for your kids is a constant rotation of hot dogs and elbow macaroni? This zucchini carbonara with parsnip “pancetta” from David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl’s Little Green Kitchen puts a healthy-ish spin on a well-loved favorite that happens to be adult-approved too. And we should mention that from the get-go, it takes less than 30 minutes to make.

“Spaghetti carbonara must be one of the most popular kids’ dishes of all time,” Frenkiel and Vindahl write. “No wonder; it’s plain and creamy with lots of spaghetti and crispy chunks of something salty-sweet. In our version we use small chunks of parsnip that crisp up just like pancetta, and we mix spiralized zucchini into the spaghetti to amp up the vegetable content, but still with a similar flavor and texture to the original.”

And while you have those extra hands in the kitchen, spiralizing the zucchini is a fun (not to mention easy) process that your kids will love to be in charge of.

Boxed mac and cheese, we’ll see you on the flip side.

Recipe excerpted with permission from Little Green Kitchen by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl, published by Hardie Grant Books, May 2019.


Sea salt

7 ounces (200g) whole-grain spaghetti

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 parsnips—tops removed, peeled and cut into batons

1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

½ cup (100g) sour cream

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

2 teaspoons lemon zest

Freshly ground black pepper

1 medium zucchini, spiralized or grated

Grated Parmesan, extra-virgin olive oil and flat-leaf parsley, to serve


1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, 7 to 8 minutes or according to the package instructions.

2. While the spaghetti is cooking, heat half the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the parsnips, onion and a pinch of salt, and sauté the until the onion begins to soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan along with the remaining oil, sautéing until the onion has caramelized and the parsnips are golden and crispy, about 5 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, egg yolks, Parmesan and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then set aside.

4. When the spaghetti is al dente, remove from the heat and drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water.

5. Add the spaghetti to the skillet along with a splash of the cooking water, the sour cream mixture and the zucchini, and quickly but gently toss together. The heat from the spaghetti will delicately cook the yolks just enough to thicken into a smooth and silky sauce without scrambling. You may need to add more of the cooking water to loosen the sauce slightly. Garnish with more Parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprig of parsley, if you like.

Note: For an adult upgrade, you can increase the amount of freshly ground black pepper, stir in chopped parsley and serve alongside a hefty amount of salad greens.

Nutrition Facts
  • 475 calories

  • 23g fat

  • 55g carbs

  • 12g proteins

  • 8g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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