Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Quinoa Pasta and Healthier Spaghetti Carbonara

I've talked about quinoa before and what a wonderful grain it is. It has fiber and protein, plus it's gluten-free. I've used pasta made from quinoa before and was pleasantly surprised. It pretty much tastes like regular wheat pasta, but it is a little firmer in texture. I have found that my stomach is much more settled when I avoid wheat, so I try to use these alternative pastas.

Ancient Harvest Quinoa Spaghetti was the perfect ingredient for a healthier version of Spaghetti Carbonara. I get my cooking inspirations from many different places. I recently read a book called "To Have and to Kill: A Wedding Cake Mystery" by Mary Jane Clark. It was a light, fluffy, entertaining book, but mostly forgettable (I gave it 3 stars). In the book there is a scene that, to me, was not so easily forgettable because it involves food. The main character and a friend cook Carbonara together and the author describes in great detail how it is made. It sounded rather simple and delicious, so of course I had to try make it myself!

Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish based on eggs, cheese, bacon and pepper. It is the perfect time of year to make this recipe since it doesn't require heating the oven and goes well with a simple, fresh side salad. I chose the highest-rated recipe on allrecipes.com and put my own healthy twist on it. I halved the amount of pasta (using the quinoa pasta). This halved the amount of servings, but since I kept the amount of the other ingredients the same, it meant less carbs and more protein. Instead of regular bacon I used turkey bacon and replaced the bacon fat with more olive oil. The trick with carbonara is to not overcook the eggs. Add the eggs and parmesan, then immediately remove from the heat. The heat of the pan and the other ingredients will cook the eggs enough so they are not raw.

Dianne's Healthier Spaghetti Carbonara
(This is not a low-FODMAP recipe)
serves 4

1/2 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 slices turkey bacon, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti pasta until al dente. Drain well. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set aside.        
  2. Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook chopped bacon until slightly crisp; remove and drain onto paper towels. Add remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, and heat in reused large skillet. Add chopped onion, and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add wine; cook one more minute.               
  3. Return cooked bacon to pan; add cooked and drained spaghetti. Toss to coat and heat through, adding more olive oil if it seems dry or is sticking together. Add beaten eggs and cook, tossing constantly with tongs or large fork until eggs are barely set. Quickly add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste (remember that bacon and Parmesan are very salty).               
  4. Serve immediately with chopped parsley sprinkled on top, and extra Parmesan cheese at table.               


  1. I made spaghetti alla carbonara just last night, and I was thinking about writing a blog post about it, too.
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  2. Be prepared, when you'll eat Carbonara, life will never be the same again!

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