The freshness of basil with the heritage eggs and pancetta makes this walnut pesto carbonara an easy and super indulgent weekday dinner treat.
If you've never had carbonara before you're definitely missing out. Made creamy with egg yolks and tossed with hot pasta and a bit of bacon fat, carbonara prides itself on simple, quality ingredients that when combined make for a flavourful and soulful dish. As a young working couple living in Toronto, Philip and I are always on the lookout for weeknight meals that are just as delicious as they are easy and inexpensive, using ingredients already in our pantry.
Eggs, bacon or pancetta, garlic, olive oil and pasta are a handful of ingredients used in this pasta dish guaranteed to impress your significant other, your family or just yourself. The inclusion of walnut pesto enhances the aromatics and balances the freshness of basil with the wild eggs and pancetta making this walnut pesto carbonara an easy and super indulgent weekday dinner treat.
When cooked together in the pan, we're reminded of the simplicity of ingredients and how few ingredients can make for the most flavourful and most enjoyed dishes. The richness of the egg yolk tossed with the bacon fat and the aromas of walnut pesto is the perfect base for your al dente pasta (firm to the bite). Once you remove the pasta from the water and add it to the pan it will continue to cook. Also, if you're using fresh pasta begin cooking it just as the pancetta finishes cooking in the pan.
Tip: make additional walnut pesto and use it on other dishes like pizza or avocado toast. Get our 2 Steppin' Walnut Pesto recipe here.
When plating, let the rustic nature of this creamy pesto carbonara fall as it may. Using a spoon and tongs, twirl the pasta and gently plate, pulling the pasta slowly down one side of the plate. Top with a heaping handful of Parmigiano, finely chopped basil and glaze with additional walnut pesto.
Bon appetit xo
Chef Sous Chef
How to Make Walnut Pesto Carbonara
Make the Pesto
In a small food processor or blender, pulse the walnuts and chopped garlic together 3-4 times until combined. Add the basil and pulse again. Finally, add the lemon juice and Parmigiano and pulse once more then scrape it into a bowl.
Stir in the olive oil, then season with the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as preferred.
Boil Water for the Spaghetti
Get a large pot of water and salt it heavily. If you taste the water, it should taste like the sea. Bring the water to a boil and toss in the pasta. Cook until it's tender but still a little firm to the bite. This is what Italian's call al dente.
How to Cook the Pancetta
Place cubed pancetta in a large skillet with a clove of garlic and cook on medium heat. Start with a cold pan so that the fat renders out slowly, resulting in a tender chew. Cook the meat until it is browned but not crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic, then add the black pepper.
Prepare the Eggs to Make Carbonara
While the pork is cooking, get a small bowl, crack the eggs into it, add a handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and half the pesto. Whisk until well combined.
Add the Spaghetti
Once the pork is cooked, reserve about a half cup of the pasta water, drain the spaghetti and toss into the skillet with the pancetta. Stir the spaghetti until it begins to soak up the pancetta fat then add a good splash of the pasta water.
Creating the Pesto Carbonara Sauce
While stirring and tossing the pasta, pour in the eggs. Keep tossing, incorporating the eggs into the water until it forms a creamy and glossy sauce around the spaghetti. You can add a couple more splashes of water as necessary. Serve with an additional sprinkling of pecorino and a few twists of black pepper.
Helpful Tools for Making Walnut Pesto Carbonara
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Walnut Pesto Carbonara
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic 1 chopped and one whole
- 1 cup fresh basil
- ½ small lemon juiced
- 1 cup grated parmigiana reggiano divided
- ¼ cup olive oil + 1 tbsp
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ lb pasta
- 3 large egg yolks
- ¼ lb pancetta cubed
- No. 1 | Start a large pot of heavily salted water to boil.
- No. 2 | In a small food processor or blender, pulse the walnuts and chopped garlic together 3-4 times until combined. Add the basil and pulse again. Finally, add the lemon juice and ¼ cup parmesan and pulse once more then scrape it into a bowl. Stir in the ¼ cup olive oil then season with the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as preferred.
- No. 3 | In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and ½ cup parmesan. Add half the pesto, stir and set aside.
- No. 4 | At this point you can add your pasta to the water and cook it until it is al dente.
- No. 5 | Meanwhile, place cubed pancetta in a large skillet with a clove of garlic and cook on medium heat. Cook the meat until it is browned but not crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic, then add the black pepper.
- No. 6 | Reserve about a half cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the pancetta. Pour in half of the reserved pasta water and toss to coat the pasta. Add the egg pesto sauce and toss the pasta. Add a bit more water if needed. Season with fresh ground pepper.
- No. 7 | Serve with an additional sprinkling of parmesan, and a splash of additional pesto.