Friday, October 29, 2010

In the Kitchen: Pancetta & Zucchini Carbonara

It's been a while since I've cooked something non-Asian. Maybe it's cos I'm away from home now so I tend to cook the familiar home favourites to make up for the distance and my mum's cooking. At times, I do feel that it's easier to cook Asian since we already have most of the sauces and condiments needed.

I've been wanting to make this pasta since having a delicious one at my uni cafe months back (yes, there is good food at uni). Whilst doing some Googling, I found Jamie Oliver's Carbonara recipe and since there was some cream in the fridge, I got down to work in the kitchen.

Ingredients (serves 1 - 2, depending on appetite)
150g linguine
1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise to approx. 5cm
50g pancetta, sliced to similar size as the zucchini
1 egg yolk
25ml pure cream
Generous amount of Parmesan cheese
Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil
Thyme (optional)

  • Prepare the carbonara sauce by combining the egg yolk, cream and half the amount of Parmesan cheese. Season lightly with salt and set aside.
  • Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water according to the instructions on the packet.
  • Whilst the pasta is boiling, fry the pancetta with olive oil in a frying pan until it is a dark brown and the fat has been dissolved.
  • Add the sliced zucchini to the pan and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper.
  • Add the thyme leaves if used here and fry the zucchini until it has softened slightly.
  • Once pasta is cooked, add the pasta to the pan to toss with the pancetta and zucchini.
  • Remove from the heat and add a small ladle of the water which the pasta was cooked in and the carbonara sauce. Stir together quickly.
  • Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese and season to taste.

Some points to take note of:
  • Timing is important in cooking this dish. Ensure that the pasta is cooked and ready at the time the pancetta and zucchini are cooked. If the pasta is prepared early, ensure that it does not sit in the hot water otherwise the pasta will be overcooked by the time it is added to the pan for tossing.
  • Ensure that the pan is removed from the heat before adding the carbonara sauce otherwise the heat will scramble the eggs.
  • Stir quickly when the sauce is added to the pasta.
  • Don't drain all the pasta liquid away as it is necessary to help the carbonara sauce work through the pasta and give it a smooth consistency.
  • Ensure that there is enough cream and pasta liquid to coat the pasta fully. I should have added more cream and liquid as that would have made it slightly richer and more delicious.
  • The recipe tastes good without the thyme but would probably be better since it will give the dish a nice flavour and an added dimension.
  • You can substitute linguine with penne or spaghetti and pancetta with smoked bacon.

I love Jamie Oliver's recipes cos they're pretty easily to follow and have never failed me. See here for the original recipe.

Have a go and have fun in the kitchen!


  1. Hi, where do you buy your pancetta?

  2. If you're in SG, you shld be able to find it at the section where they sell cold cut hams in Cold Storage (prob the ones located downtown or Bukit Timah areas), Jasons or NTUC Finest.

  3. Sooks - maybe you mean bacon? Pancetta is not available in Singapore

  4. oohh.. really? I thought it was. I was in Sydney when I cooked this. I could have used smoked bacon in Singapore. hhhmm....

  5. Easy to tell - pancetta (the one for cooking) comes in big blocks - not slices. If it was in slices - then it wasn't pancetta. Unfortunately nor pancetta or guanciale are allowed in Singapore. Guanciale is what should actually be used for a proper carbonara, but even in Italy pancetta is commonly used instead, since it's more readily available.

  6. icicc.. Thanks for the info! Btw, I thought I might as well ask. If you had to choose one city to visit in Italy for food, which city would you suggest I visit?