The "classic" pasta alla carbonara would be almost starkly simple if it weren't so incredibly rich: it's little more than pasta, pancetta, and eggs. If you can't get pancetta, bacon is a good substitute, but if you can't or don't want to get bacon, you can try the following vegetarian variation, which is in no way meant as a detraction of the recipe posted above by the lovely and talented Ouroboros, but rather as an alternative. Anyway...

What You Need (Ingredients)

  • sliced mushrooms (1/4-1/2 pound)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3/4 pound pasta (I used linguine, but spaghetti or fettucine would probably be good alternatives)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Romano, or Asiago, or what have you --- something hard and sharpish and salty)

What You Do (Directions)

  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a medium to large frying pan on medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until they brown and soften and release their yummy mushroom juices, maybe two or three minutes
  2. Add the garlic and salt and pepper and thyme and saute another minute or so.
  3. Add the wine and simmer it all together until the wine has reduced to around two tablespoons, probably another two or three minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to low or remove pan from heat entirely.
  5. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. (Honestly, you could probably do this step first, and put together the sauce while the pasta's cooking, but I figure on your first run through it's a good idea to give yourself a little extra time.)
  6. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs and cheese in a bowl big enough to serve the pasta in.
  7. When the pasta is done to your satisfaction, drain it and add it to the egg mixture. Stir/toss it together quickly, so the eggs and cheese coat the pasta instead of cooking and melting into one big gooey glob at the bottom of the bowl. (If, like me, you're still a little freaked out by raw egg, let me assure you that the heat of the pasta is quite sufficient for cooking it in this case.)
  8. Finally, add the mushroom-wine sauce to the pasta and give it a final stir so it's all mixed together and looks nice.
  9. Serve with extra grated Parmesan and maybe a glass of nice red wine if you've got it. Makes 2-3 servings in 20 minutes or fewer. Yum!

Possible variations on the sauce include the bacon/pancetta substitution mentioned above, as well as white wine instead of red wine if you're so inclined.

This has been a Node Your Dinner/Life Tastes Good production. My inspiration for this recipe came mostly from hunger, although I did consult a linguine carbonara recipe in Quick From Scratch Pasta by Food & Wine Books.