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Creamy, Classic Carbonara—And 5 Ways to Riff

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What makes a carbonara a carbonara? The classic Italian pasta dish, at its most simple, is a marvelous melding of bacon, egg, and cheese (like my favorite breakfast sandwich but so, so different). The trio comes together to coat pasta with a creamy, sumptuous sauce that warms your belly and sticks to your ribs. It’s supreme comfort food.

Though there’s a method to carbonara madness, that doesn’t mean it’s always prepared the same way. Like any good thing, a carbonara recipe is endlessly customizable. Sub out meat for a vegetable-forward approach, or change up the shape of your pasta. A carbonara is still a carbonara if you will it to be one. Start with this handy guide to a no-recipe rendition, then get to riffing:

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The Key to Making Killer Carbonara Without a Recipe
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The Key to Making Killer Carbonara Without a Recipe

Creamy & Classic

These two takes are carbonara recipes at their most typical. Follow these to master the technique and make sure you’ve got the simple ones down before you start swerving.

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara by Sara Jenkins

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara by Brette Warshaw

Go Green

The addition of fresh and crunchy vegetables in these two recipes take the carbonara a bit off course and into exciting new territory. Be it ramps or Brussels sprouts, a vegetable-dappled sauce is a welcome alteration.

Ramp Carbonara

Ramp Carbonara by meganvt01

Brussels Sprouts Carbonara

Brussels Sprouts Carbonara by Leanne Brown

Different but Delicious

These takes eschew the traditional ingredients. Instead, they opt for unconventional approaches to the creamy, bacon-laden sauce. One features cauliflower, another mushrooms. Consider this carbonara-ish.

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Andy Bennett's Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Carbonara
Andy Bennett's Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Carbonara
Smoky, Spicy Vegetarian Pasta with Eggs and Mushrooms

Smoky, Spicy Vegetarian Pasta with Eggs and Mushrooms by Sarah Jampel

Rhonda's Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Pangrattato for One

Rhonda's Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Pangrattato for One by Rhonda35

How do you carbonara? Tell us your tips in the comments below.

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Pasta, Cauliflower, Weeknight Cooking