One-Pot Wonders: Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Kale

Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Kale
Yasmin Fahr

Spaghetti alla carbonara is already one of the simplest dishes around. Made with nothing but cured pork, spaghetti, eggs, cheese, and a ton of black pepper, its beauty lies in nailing the technique so that you end up with a smooth, creamy sauce, as opposed to scrambled eggs. Using carbonara as the starting point, this recipe adds in a bit of crispy kale to round out the meal, all with nothing more than a skillet and a bowl.

Before you get all huffy and puffy about this not being a traditional carbonara, let me just say it outright: this is not your traditional Italian carbonara.

A typical carbonara recipe will probably have you cook the bacon/cured meat of choice while the pasta is cooking and then, after draining the pasta, add the egg and cheese mixture to the pan and stir with vigor, then add the bacon bits. But we're going to abandon the norm and forge our own path, using just one pot. Ready?

Start by cooking the bacon in the pan until the fat renders and it crisps. Then add sliced shallots and kale, which soak up some of the flavorful bacon fat, and also get a little crisp. After transferring that mixture to a bowl, cook the pasta in the same skillet (this means even more bacon flavor infused into your pasta), using just enough chicken broth to soften up the pasta and leave behind a thickened, starchy liquid that makes a perfect base for the egg sauce. Meanwhile, add the eggs and cheese to the kale mixture to get it ready to add back to the pasta at the end.

When the pasta is al dente, take it off the heat and, with confidence and ease (eggs can smell fear), add the egg mixture to the pan and vigorously stir so that the eggs envelop and thicken the pasta. Stir actively and don't overheat the pasta—it's best to do this off-heat and rely on the residual heat of the pan and the pasta—all it requires is a clear mind and some dedication. Just think of the Friday Night Lights motto: Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can't Lose. You can do it!

The result is a creamy, delicious, one-pot dish that's perfect for a weeknight dinner (or even better for a hangover breakfast). The technique may get shunned by traditionalists, but in this case, the proof is in the pasta.