This is a low-carb and lightened up version of carbonara, one of my favorite pasta dishes.
My husband recently told me that he doesn’t really care for zucchini noodles. I, on the other hand, love them. Yes, they don’t replace traditional pasta, but they are a fun way to enjoy a lot of my favorite pasta dishes without all the heavy carbs.
Whenever I make carbonara, I can’t help but think of the first time I had it. It was our one year dating anniversary and my husband, having recently spent his winter vacation in Italy visiting his aunt, decided he would cook me dinner. His aunt had taught him to make carbonara and he couldn’t wait to show off his new-found cooking skills. Unfortunately, my husband is pretty slow and meticulous when he is in the kitchen. And if you know anything about carbonara, you know that you have to be quick. Hot pasta is tossed in a raw egg and cheese mixture, using the heat of the pasta to gently cook the egg for a creamy sauce. Well, his didn’t quite turn out that way.
He was too slow in tossing the pasta in the sauce, so by the time he started, his pasta had already cooled. As a result, the egg didn’t have enough heat to cook. So he ended up serving me a pasta dish with gooey raw egg whites still clinging onto the noodles. After that, I didn’t touch carbonara for years. I eventually tried carbonara again years later and have been making carbonara ever since– just not with any help from the husband.
For this dish, I prepared it similar to traditional carbonara, but with a few modifications. I used bacon instead of panchetta because I rarely have panchetta in the house. I also used less of it since zucchini doesn’t soak up the oils as well as pasta. There is also less sauce. I drained off most of the sauce because the zucchini noodles release so much water when they settle, making the sauce very runny. Actually, most of the carbonara I had in Italy was not very saucy, so I didn’t mind not having so much sauce. The zucchini noodles are still coated in garlic, bacon and cheese. To make the zucchini noodles a little creamier, I added a fried egg. When you break the yolk and mix it with the zucchini, it makes the noodles extra creamy.
Zucchini Noodles Carbonara
- 2 medium zucchinis spiralized
- 2 slices raw bacon
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 3 large eggs (see note)
- ground black pepper
- In a large frying pan over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon, set aside and drain bacon grease from frying pan, reserving 1 tbsp for cooking.
- Add the 1 tbsp bacon grease back into the pan. Add in garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add in zucchini noodles. Cook until zucchini noodles are just cooked but still crunchy. While zucchini noodles are cooking, cut up bacon into bite-sized pieces. In a small bowl, add 1 egg and 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Whisk together until egg is completely whisked.
- Drain any water from frying pan with the zucchini. Turn off heat and place zucchini noodles and frying pan back onto the stove and pour in egg mixture. (It's best to keep the frying pan on the same just turned off burner. The heat from the burner should keep the noodles from cooling too fast.) Working quickly, toss the hot zucchini noodles in the egg mixture. You should see the sauce start to turn creamy. Toss until the noodles are fully coated in a creamy, cheesy sauce. Add bacon back in and toss to mix. If zucchini produces additional water, drain from noodles. If you want to make the sauce a little thicker, you can add 1 tbsp of heavy cream and stir it in.
- In a small frying pan, make two sunny-side-up eggs. Sprinkle with black pepper and top on noodles before serving.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.