Knowing what to cook for someone you’re dating the first time you invite them over can be SO daunting. You want to impress them without going overboard and stressing out over complex, expensive or time consuming recipes. I think carbonara is perfect – it shows off a small amount of technique while also being budget-friendly and you can have it on the table in under 20 minutes.

So ignore it’s reputation for being a fiddly and very technical dish. Because like most people’s reputations, carbonara’s is mostly gossip and third-hand rumours from old school mates who haven’t even spoken to you in ten years. So burn everything you know about carbonara in a ritualistic dumpster fire because your mind is about to be blown by how easy it really is…

This recipe serves two.

Ingredients

  • 3 rashers of bacon
  • 3 egg yolks (freeze the whites for use another time!)
  • 40g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 200g dried spaghetti or linguine

Method

  1. Place a large pot of salted water on a high heat and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta for two minutes less than than the packet instructions
  2. Add the bacon to a cold frying pan and turn on to a medium heat. Allow the pan to heat up and then cook the bacon until it’s about 70% cooked to your liking. Remove from the pan and diced. Turn off the frying pan and toss in the garlic to sweat off
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolks, cheese and lots of fresh pepper
  4. Strain the pasta and reserve one cup of the pasta water
  5. Toss the pasta and the bacon into the frying pan and turn the heat back onto low, add the egg/parmesan mixture and 1/4 off the pasta water. Stir together (now is all the time to add additionals like spinach, pre-cooked mushrooms, steamed asparagus, etc)
  6. Keep adding a little bit of pasta water at a time until you have a sauce consistency that you like, being sure to keep the heat low and the pasta constantly moving (I like to use silicone tongs for this). Now is also the time to check for seasoning – add salt and pepper if required
  7. If you add too much water, still keeping the pasta moving, increase the heat a tiny bit to help cook off some of the excess and thicken the sauce again
  8. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh basil or parsley

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