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spaghetti carbonara with tomatoes and spinach in bowl
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5 from 7 votes

Carbonara Without Cream Recipe (Summer Version)

Try this easy spaghetti carbonara recipe without cream for a summer twist on a classic. We added spinach and fresh tomatoes for a healthier, vibrant touch.
Prep Time8 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings (change as needed): 4
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 8 ounce spaghetti, spaghettini or vermicelli
  • 2 whole eggs, room temperature (run under warm water if needed)
  • 1 cup grated cheese - Parmesan, Pecorino cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano (reserve 1/4 cup/15g for garnish)
  • 6 --7 slices bacon, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or grated (or 4 cubes frozen)
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups baby spinach, loosely packed
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  • PREPARE EGGS AND PARMESAN: Whisk together eggs and 3/4 cup/60 grams Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • COOK BACON: Heat frying pan to medium-high heat and cook chopped bacon until crisp, about 5-6 minutes, turning a few times. Note 1 to bake bacon instead. Leave 1-2 tablespoons of fat in pan for flavor. Discard the rest. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds minute. Turn burner on stove to very low heat or OFF.
  • BOIL SPAGHETTI AND SPINACH: While the bacon is cooking, boil spaghetti in salted water to al dente according to package directions. Just before it's ready, add the baby spinach and stir once or twice (no need to cook it). Drain spaghetti and spinach. No need to drain too thoroughly. A little bit of water on the pasta is good. Reserve a cup of pasta water.
  • ASSEMBLE SPAGHETTI CARBONARA: Add hot spaghetti and spinach to skillet immediately. Stir in egg-cheese mixture. Toss quickly and blend until pasta is coated well. Add a splash of pasta water a little at a time if needed until you get a smooth creamy carbonara. You will likely not need all of it. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes and parsley. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan on top or serve on the side. Serve immediately with remaining Parmesan.

Notes

  1. To bake the bacon: Lay strips of bacon on a foil-lined pan. You can put a rack on top if you like, but I don't bother. Place in oven and turn oven temperature to 400F. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until crispy. Thicker bacon may take a couple of minutes longer. Drain on paper towels. Chop bacon and place in skillet with 2 tablespoons of grease. Continue recipe. 
  2. Variations
    • For a vegetarian or kosher version, you can simply swap the bacon with a vegetarian bacon product.
    • Experiment with adding different vegetables like mushrooms or zucchini - grilled or stir fried.
    • Use Pancetta instead of bacon.
    • For a shrimp carbonara recipe, add cooked shrimp.
    • Some recipes just use egg yolks. For simplicity, I use whole eggs. If you want an even richer sauce, use just egg yolks (and double them).
    • Shortcut: use pre-cooked bacon
  3. Make Ahead:
    • Spaghetti Carbonara has to be assembled at the last minute for best results. The ingredients, however, and the bacon can be prepped ahead.
    • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
    • How to reheat carbonara: Put in microwave safe bowl, uncovered. Add a splash of water. Heat in bursts of one minute, stirring in between until heated through. 
Nutrition values are estimates based on a nutrition calculator. 
Calories: 485kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 927mg | Potassium: 579mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4811IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 355mg | Iron: 3mg