I know, it’s been a while but hey, I’ve been traveling all over Central America! Costa Rica with the hubs and Puerto Rico with my cousin and brother. Add on a touch of wedding season and family portraits and I’ve been a busy beaver. But this recipe is one of my summer go-to’s because it’s quick and filling. I call it ‘upgraded’ because I like mine with peas, a little lemon, and some nice caramelized onions and garlic. This recipe makes enough to feed a whole family with some leftovers for lunch the next day. Pair with a nice salad from the garden and boom, perfect meal thrown together in 20 minutes. I would also follow the photos below for prep. I prep everything before I start cooking because everything goes super fast and you don’t want to be whisking eggs while you’re supposed to be flipping cheese!
Also, the Halloumi is optional, but totally recommended. What makes it unique is it’s made with a combination of cow and sheep’s milk. It helps give it it’s firm texture which makes it perfect for pan frying! It pairs sooo well with the little hint of lemon and bacon in this dish. Halloumi tends to be a little seasonal around me, but when I find it, I buy a lot of it.
***A little tip, the cheapest I’ve been able to find it is from Trader Joes and it is FAR cheaper then your grocery store (like a forth the price, so get crazy).** If you don’t want to use Halloumi, this carbonara is totally a stand alone recipe, so feel free to make it without!
**Just a reminder here too: Make sure to save a cup of that liquid gold, pasta water! It helps make this dish extra creamy!**
Upgraded Carbonara w/ Fried Halloumi
- 1 - 16oz box spaghetti (we use regular spaghetti for this, great with thin or fettuccine/linguine too!)
- 1 - 12 oz pkg uncooked bacon, cut up into small pieces (use hickory or smoked, do NOT use maple)
- 1 lemon 1/3 zested and whole thing juiced
- 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 eggs whisked
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1/2 sweet onion finely chopped
- 1 - 16 oz bag frozen peas (can steam in bag or in pan with bacon)
- 1 - 8 oz piece halloumi, sliced and pan fried
- salt for pasta water
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper (add more for taste, we love with lots of fresh ground pepper!)
- 1/2 - 1 cup pasta water ***remember to get this before you drain pasta***
- We're going to prep everything before we start cooking which I highly recommend. Finely chop onion and press garlic, set aside. Zest half of the lemon and juice the whole thing in a medium bowl. Add eggs and pepper. Whisk until well combined and smooth. Add grated Parmesan to egg mixture and mix until smooth. Set aside. Slice halloumi and set aside. Open pack of bacon use scissors to cut into small pieces (trust me, this is the easiest and quickest way to do this).
- In a large pot fill with water according to pasta box directions and put on high heat to bring to a boil. In a large pan at medium high, place chopped bacon and begin to fry. Once it become golden brown, add in onions and garlic. This is typically about the time my water starts boiling so add your pasta into your boiling water with a few tablespoons of salt. Stir until onions become translucent and start to brown.
- At this point, take a tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan and put in a small pan (this onion garlicy bacon goodness is what you're frying the halloumi in). Turn on small pan on medium heat and add cheese. Cook cheese slices in batches at about 2-3 minutes per side and then set aside to top pasta.
- Now, drain off about half the fat from the bacon pan. Add in peas (still frozen) stir everything until well combined, reduce heat to medium, and then cover and allow to steam for 5-7 minutes while pasta cooks. **Carefully, scoop about 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta. Place drained pasta back in big pot, add in pea/bacon mixture, and egg/cheese mixture. Begin to stir immediately. Slowly incorporate reserved pasta water until you get the desired creaminess to your pasta. Serve immediately and top with fried halloumi. Enjoy!