The key to making this traditional Roman pasta dish is tossing the pasta with the sauce in the serving dish—not in the skillet. And as for the thick, velvety, iconic sauce, it's made up of egg yolks, olive oil, Parmesan and rendered guanciale, which are stirred together before being tossed with noodles and some pasta water. To make a more classic version of the dish, simply leave out the kale and hazelnuts.
Though we normally suggest you season your pasta water generously, don't go overboard on salting the water with this dish. Between the cheese and guanciale, there's already a good amount of salt.
To learn more, read "Carbonara Loading."
Carbonara with Kale and Hazelnuts
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
½ cup hazelnuts
4 ounces thinly sliced guanciale or pancetta, finely chopped
5 egg yolks
1½ cups finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
½ pound Tuscan kale (about 1 large bunch), stems trimmed, roughly chopped
1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool and roughly chop.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium heat, add the guanciale (or pancetta, if using) and cook, stirring occasionally until the fat begins to render and becomes crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the guanciale to a bowl and set aside. Reserve the fat in a separate bowl and let cool.
3. In a large serving bowl, whisk the yolks, Parmesan, olive oil, black pepper and reserved guanciale fat. Set aside.
4. Prepare an ice bath and bring both a large and a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale to the medium pot and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the kale to the ice bath and let cool, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain and squeeze out any excess water. Add the pasta to the large pot and cook until al dente, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water, and transfer the pasta to the egg mixture.
5. Toss the pasta with the egg mixture, adding pasta water to create a creamy sauce. Zest half of the lemon over the pasta and add the guanciale pieces, kale and hazelnuts, and toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with more Parmesan and serve immediately.