I am in love with cheese. At restaurants, when the servers ask me to tell them when to stop while they put the Parmesan on my dish, I tell them to just leave the bowl at the table. It is a very “happy problem” since I am sensitive to lactose. I am lucky to have lactose free cheese options of course, but because of my love for cheese, I frequently run out of it. This was an experiment to see what could be done to make a yummy and Creamy Carbonara without using any cheese (Parmesan, my love, I’m so sorry). The experiment was successful!
Every time I had looked up Carbonara Recipes, there were a billion steps with about three pans involved. I like one pan meals so that’s what I did (along with a pot to make the pasta, which to be fair, you can make faster if you use a pan).
6 Strips of Bacon
3 Garlic cloves, diced
Pasta of your choice ( I love Vermicelli, it’s thinner than regular pasta but slightly bigger than Angel Hair)
2 Shallots, thinly sliced
A few drops of Olive Oil
1 cup Frozen Peas
2 egg whites (keep the yolks in a separate bowl)
Heavy Cream (I used the substitute version with lactose free milk)
Red Pepper Flakes
(If you want to use cheese, add a cup or two of Parmesan to this list. Instructions for the simple “With Cheese” Recipe is listed at the end!)
First, I think it’s important to say that timing is a bit important when it comes to this recipe. Since you are using egg whites to coat the pasta, start by preparing the eggs and get the pasta started in a pot of boiling water with salt. The pasta will still need to be warm when you add the raw egg whites so the pasta can cook them without getting more of a… scrambled egg concoction.
In the Ingredients section, I mentioned keeping the egg yolks in another bowl- this is because some people enjoy topping the dish with the raw egg yolks at the very end but, several people have concerns about having raw eggs (thanks Obam-just kidding- I really meant Thanks Salmonella), so if you want to save the egg yolks for another dish, that’s fine too! What is important for this recipe is to have the egg whites.
In another pan, put the sliced bacon in a tiny bit of olive oil (I used some butter too- my poor arteries; I put butter in everything) until crispy but not crunchy. Once they are cooked to your liking, add the diced garlic, shallots, the cream and let it reduce. Many people want to remove the bacon grease but I love the taste it gives to, well, any meal. Right at the end, add the peas. While you definitely want them to cook, you don’t want them to be on the heat for too long because their texture will change.
When the pasta is done, remove approximately 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining. Take the pasta pot off of the heat and add the egg whites, swiftly tossing everything to mix be sure it is mixed well. Allow the egg whites to “cook”, add the bacon, cream and peas mixture and if it’s not the consistency you desire, thin it out with the pasta water.
Garnish it with some salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and (if you do have some cheese and want it included) some finely grated cheese.
*If you wish that this recipe started off with having some Parmigiano-Reggiano, add it to the recipe! While you’re preparing the cream mixture, you would just add the cheese to it. Also, you would not coat the pasta with the egg whites, you would simply add them to the cream mixture and whisk it. Very simple!*