Pasta Carbonara with Fresh Green Beans is one of the most satisfying weeknight dishes I have made in weeks, but I was nearly killed trying to get it on the table. Well, let’s stick with maimed.
Shop the Story
First, I made a peach tart crust in the food processor, and the cord from my machine somehow managed to slip into the open flame where I was heating up my pasta water, and after a few POP! POP! POPs! and some sparks, there went that thing. The shock begot by my Cuisinart’s untimely death was yet behind me when I went to grab the pan in which I had sautéed my bacon, and its handle, apparently also caught up in the mad heat that this stove produced, burned my hand.
(Do you agree that the home cooking world can be strictly divided between cutters and burners and that the two groups are distinct in important ways that make them as distinguishable as say St Bernard lovers with those who prefer small, hairless cats? Discuss.)
At this point my husband came into the kitchen and supervised as I began to quietly chop up my onions and garlic, saying, “I really think I need to make sure we don’t have any more incidents this evening. And you know last week the chicken was a little undercooked, too.”
This is the sort of capping statement that might well make a young bride start to cry. Those of us who have been married a good while know that the contract dictates that the cook in the family refrain from such rejoinders as, “I fed you a little raw chicken which was from the farmer’s market so no harm no foul, and, anyway, if I didn’t cook you would have to call in the Red Cross to make sure this family didn’t starve,” and in exchange the non-cook looks the other way when the Amex bill comes for the new food processor that replaced the perfectly good one. (Or, as in my case, a week after the fact, an Amazon box may show up with a new 11-cup model, and your non-cooking spouse, not wishing to starve, nor hear you whimper as you look at pie crust recipes you can no longer make, will smile silently behind the newspaper.)
So. Just as my onions were starting to get nice and soft, and holding a pack of frozen peas against my burned hand, I quickly trimmed up some lovely haricots verts, which believe it or not were the thing that drew me to this recipe. I just love the idea of these delicious little beans providing the fresh crunch against all this fat and salt.
In went the garlic, and watching carefully, and stirring now and again, I waited for my moment to add the bacon. Everything should get nice and soft, not mushy, and that goes for the pasta you’ve just thrown on, too.
Next came the part where I then became gripped with fear. Would adding cream and eggs turn my dish into scrambled eggs with bacon? In fact, if you take it off the heat and move your eggs and cream mix very carefully but consistently through the bowl, it will heat into a creamy coating, just as mtlabor promises you.
I threw on my cheese, and plopped a bowl in front of my husband, tossing a quesadilla toward the incipient pescatarian. I ground a bit of black pepper into each of our bowls, and we dug in. To comment on such a dish would be to somehow dampen its decadent pleasures, and so we sat in silence, happy to be alive, and praying (in vain) for leftovers.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package directions for al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet under high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, and green beans. Season with salt and pepper and saute for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until onion starts to soften.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic. Cook for an additional 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, whisk the cream and eggs. Set aside.
Add the chopped bacon and the cooked pasta to the skillet.
Mix well. Remove from heat and add in cream/egg mixture. Let the residual heat slowly thicken the sauce. Stir in both cheeses and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Serve right away with cheesy garlic bread!
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).