A strict carbonara requires only eggs, bacon, pepper, Parmesan and a little olive oil. Of course, once you know the rules of Italian cooking, you can break them! That's exactly what we're doing tonight with our addition of vibrant green spinach and toasted pine nuts for an irresistible crunch!
baby spinach leaves
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil. TIP: Put a lid on the saucepan to help the water boil faster! Thinly slice the red onion. Cut the zucchini into 1cm chunks. Finely chop the garlic (or use a garlic press). Cut the bacon into 1cm pieces. Finely grate the Parmesan cheese.
Add the spaghetti to the saucepan of boiling water and cook for 9 minutes, or until ‘al dente’. TIP: Stir the occasionally to ensure it doesn't stick. Reserve some cooking water (1 cup for 2 people / 2 cups for 4 people), then drain the pasta and return to the saucepan. Drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
While the pasta is cooking, whisk the eggs with a fork in a medium bowl. Add the Parmesan cheese (reserve some for garnish!) and season with a pinch of pepper. Mix well and set aside.
Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts and toast, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a small bowl. Return the pan to a medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the bacon and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until browned. Add the red onion, zucchini and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the baby spinach leaves and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, or until wilted. Add the spaghetti to the frying pan and toss to coat.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the parmesan-egg mixture and some reserved cooking water (1/2 cup for 2 people / 1 cup for 4 people). TIP: Removing the pan from the heat before adding the egg is important to stop the eggs from scrambling. Mix well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. TIP: Customise your dish! If the sauce looks too thick, add a dash more cooking water until it has a creamy consistency. Seasoning is key, so taste, season with salt and pepper and taste again.
Divide the easy spaghetti carbonara between bowls. Sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts and any reserved Parmesan cheese.