For a gluten-free take on carbonara, you could, of course, turn to gluten-free pasta. But why not turn to something else entirely? Like rice or quinoa or, my favorite, kasha. Aka toasted buckwheat groats, kasha has a deeply hearty, nutty flavor that’s prized in Jewish recipes like kasha varnishkes. So why not put it toward other comfort-food dishes, too? After you try carbonara, play around to your heart’s content: Kasha cacio e pepe? Kasha marinara? Kasha not-mac and cheese? It all sounds good to me.
One important note when you’re buying the kasha: Make sure you get whole, not medium- or fine-grain, which are too broken-down for this recipe and will turn out mushy. As I learned from Ina Garten, my favorite way to prep Parmesan is chopping into hunks, then blitzing those in a food processor until fine. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also use the smallest side of a grater, or a Microplane. Pecorino Romano is a nice swap here if you don’t have Parm. And, instead of bacon, you can swap in pancetta or, most classically, guanciale. Whatever you do, just don’t skimp on the black pepper, which is just as important as anything else here.
And if you’re wondering what to do with that extra egg white? Don’t throw it out. I like to save these for whenever I make granola. Whisk with a fork until frothy-ish, then stir into the wet mixture of maple syrup and oil (or whatever you’re using). The egg white helps to bind the granola together, which means more clusters. —Emma Laperruque
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 40 minutes
- Serves 2
thick slices (5 to 6 ounces/142 to 170 grams) bacon
(105 grams) kasha
freshly ground black pepper, plus more for topping
1 1/2 teaspoons
kosher salt, plus more to taste
large eggs, divided
large egg yolk
ground Parmesan (see Author Note), plus more for topping
- Add the bacon to a cast-iron skillet (non-stick works, too) and set on the stove over medium heat. Cook, shuffling as needed and flipping halfway through, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp.
- When the bacon is done, use tongs to transfer it to a plate, and immediately add the kasha and black pepper to the skillet. Drop the heat to medium-low and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the kasha is one shade darker and smells like toasted nuts. Pour in 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and adjust the heat to low. Cook the kasha for 15 to 20 minutes, checking every so often and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a simmer.
- While the kasha cooks, work on the poached eggs and carbonara sauce. Add enough water to a saucepan to reach 1 ½ to 2 inches in depth, plus 1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt, and set over medium heat to come a simmer.
- Meanwhile, combine 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan, and a teeny pinch of salt in a small bowl. Whisk with a fork until smooth.
- When the water is gently simmering like just-popped champagne, crack one of the remaining eggs into a measuring cup with a handle and gingerly tip the egg into water. Repeat with the remaining egg. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks are slightly bouncy to the touch. At this point, you can either transfer the eggs to a towel-lined plate, or to a bowl of warm water (the latter will keep them warm until serving, but either works).
- When the kasha is done, the grains should be tender but not mushy, and the water should be totally absorbed. Cut the heat but leave the lid on to stay warm while you heat up a couple bowls or plates (my favorite way to do this is simply running them under hot water for a few seconds, then drying). Remove the lid from the kasha skillet and stir in the egg-Parm mixture, mixing until the cheese has melted and the egg sauce has slightly thickened.
- Divide the kasha carbonara between the warm plates or bowls, then top each with a poached egg and half the bacon. Sprinkle with more black pepper and ground Parmesan and serve right away.