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! Finely grate the Parmesan cheese. 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.
Add the linguine to the saucepan of boiling water and cook for 9 minutes, or until ‘al dente’. TIP: Stir the pasta regularly to ensure it doesn't stick. Reserve some cooking water (1 cup for 2 people / 2 cups for 4 people), then drain the linguine and return to the saucepan. Drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork. Add the finely grated 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 linguine 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. TIP: If the sauce looks too thick, add a dash more cooking water until it has a creamy consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. TIP: Seasoning is key in this dish, so taste, season with salt and pepper and taste again.
Divide the linguine carbonara between bowls. Sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts and any reserved Parmesan cheese.