I don’t know about you, but I can never get enough pasta. In fact, I could eat pasta every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of it, especially when it come to this caprese carbonara. With its creamy yet delicate sauce, smoky bacon, roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and tons of chopped basil, it’s everything I love in a pasta dish.
When it comes to carbonara, there’s a bit of a debate regarding the “appropriate” protein. Guinciale is traditionally used, but it’s difficult to find. I even visited my local meat shop, which has a great selection, and couldn’t find it. Bacon and pancetta often serve as substitutes, so I settled on bacon for this dish. While bacon may not be 100 percent traditional, sometimes you have to go with what’s available and not feel bad about it.
Besides, it’s bacon. You can’t tell me bacon isn’t plenty delicious in carbonara.
To start, toss the cherry tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes. If the tomatoes finish before the other components, cover the pan with foil to keep warm. You can also turn off the oven and crack open the door for a few minutes. Then, with the tomatoes still in the oven, I close the door with the oven still off. This keeps the tomatoes warm without overcooking them or wasting foil.
And now for my favorite part: the sauce. Not only is this sauce silky and delicious but it also comes together quickly, which makes it great for company.
Start by chopping plenty of bacon and cooking until the fat renders. Some pieces of bacon will finish cooking before others, so keep an eye on the pan and move the cooked bits to a paper towel-lined plate while the others continue to brown. You don't want some perfectly cooked bits mixed in with burned bits. Not good.
As the bacon cooks, beat the eggs in a bowl and stir in garlic, Parmesan, black pepper, salt and nutmeg. Once the bacon finishes cooking, pour in those delicious drippings. Trust me. Bacon fat adds a little oomph to this dish.
Now, this part is important. As soon as you drain the hot pasta, add it to the egg mixture and constantly stir. The hot pasta cooks the eggs and melts the cheese, so you need to work quickly. Keep tossing the pasta until the egg mixture turns into a silky sauce. Then, divide the coated pasta among bowls and top with bacon, roasted cherries tomatoes, torn mozzarella and lot of fresh basil. A little extra Parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes wouldn't hurt either.
An American wheat ale is lovely with this meal. Unlike its European counterparts, American wheat ales generally don’t have a spicy yeast profile, which allows the tomatoes to shine. This style also tends to show off a touch of citrus, making for a nice acidic balance.
On the wine side, I recommend a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc, which are good go-to pairings when tomatoes are involved. Both varieties have enough acidity to match the tomatoes, and the dry finish is a great counter to the mozzarella and eggs. A crisp, fruity rosé also works well, and who doesn't love a little rosé during these lovely summer months?
With our summer days dwindling, please give this caprese carbonara a try ASAP. We have to take advantage of tomato season while we can, right?
Love Your Pasta Dishes?
- Morel mushroom pasta in Parmesan cream sauce
- Truffled burrata and grilled scallop pasta
- Tex-Mex avocado pasta
- Truffled mushroom white baked ziti
- Meatball lasagna
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- 10 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 ounces bacon pancetta or guanciale, chopped
- Drippings reserved
- 4 eggs
- 4 garlic cloves grated
- 1 cup Parmesan freshly grated
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of nutmeg freshly grated
- 8-10 ounces bucatini
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella torn into bite-size pieces
- ½ cup fresh basil roughly chopped
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cherry tomatoes in a baking pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Starting in a cold skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Some pieces will finish cooking before others, so go ahead and move those to a paper towel-lined plate when they're done.
- Begin boiling the pasta. As the pasta boils, whisk eggs in bowl. Stir in grated Parmesan, nutmeg, pepper and reserved bacon drippings.
- Drain pasta and immediately toss hot pasta into the egg mixture. Continue to stir the hot pasta to melt the Parmesan and cook the eggs. Divide pasta among serving bowls and top with bacon, roasted tomatoes, torn mozzarella and fresh basil. Enjoy!
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Looks too good not to try soon! So sad that summer is nearing its ends though. Need to hurry up and make this carbonara to enjoy outside while we still can. Pinned!
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
I totally hear you. I feel like I'm running out of weekends to accomplish everything I wanted to do this summer. Happens every year. I could use another six months of summer. 🙂