Carbonara Sauce Doesn't Just Belong On Pasta Noodles

It's magnificent what a few egg yolks can be transformed into — rich custard, savory Caesar dressing, or even sweet crème brûlée. When combined with black pepper, pecorino Romano, and guanciale, those egg yolks turn into a velvety carbonara. A simple sauce made with the finest ingredients, carbonara sauce is too good to be reserved for pasta noodles alone.

The Roman dish traditionally calls for spaghetti and has expanded to other fine, long strands like linguine or bucatini that are regarded as the best type of pasta for carbonara sauce. Sure, carbonara clings to these delicate noodles like a dream, but its rich texture adorns other grains beautifully, particularly Arborio rice. Recipe developer Leah Maroney opts for the rice in her carbonara-style risotto dish, as the grain lends the silky sauce a "cozy and comforting" feel. The carbonara tastes no different in this recipe. However, the preparation is slightly different.

Rather than draining the pasta and adding it to a skillet of fried guanciale (or pancetta), Maroney toasts the risotto in the pork's fat drippings. White wine is then added, followed by a gradual amount of heated chicken broth that's gently stirred until it's absorbed by the risotto. From there, a little more chicken broth is added. Afterward, the egg yolks and whisked whites are slowly poured in, as well as the cheese and fried pancetta.

What else can carbonara sauce be served with?

Typically, carbonara is a protein and carb fest, but it can be used as a tool to get you to eat your veggies. Smothered in a delicious sauce with crispy pancetta, carbonara is a great way to distract you from the fact that zucchini noodles aren't real pasta. The light, mild noodles complement the carbonara's lush texture. However, zucchini can be too watery for carbonara's creamy nature, so salt the noodles ahead of time to draw out the water before cooking them.

Carbonara is a rich, luscious meal, but it can be practical, too. Instant ramen carbonara shows how easy it is to make the sauce, even if you don't have everything that's found in traditional carbonara. No pancetta? No problem — the leftover bacon you have in the fridge works in a pinch. Parmesan can easily work in the place of pecorino Romano. All you need next is black pepper and eggs, which are stocked in most kitchens. It may not have the same refinement as carbonara served in Rome, but it gets the job done and meets the most important criterion: it's delicious.

Who says carbonara needs to be used on noodles or grains at all? Smother cooked chicken breasts in the sauce to give them a savory, tangy flavor. In place of pasta water, cornstarch and water works to thin out the sauce if needed. Enjoy the creamy chicken breasts on their own or with a tangy mustard green salad.