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Broccoli carbonara, a lighter, vegetarian version of one of the Italian favourites

This pasta dish is a perfect main course for all the family: healthy, yummy and easy to make. There is almost nothing to cook, apart from the pasta and the veggies of course. “Pasta alla Carbonara” is very popular in Italy and it’s one of the Italian favourites also abroad. Since the name is derived from “carbonaro” (the Italian word for ‘charcoal burner’), some believe the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers. One of the main ingredients of the traditional recipe is “pancetta”, often replaced by bacon in the UK, but it is also possible to have a vegetarian version of the traditional recipe replacing the meet with broccoli, or, if you prefer, mushrooms, courgettes, peas, asparagus or peppers. I have done my vegetarian carbonara with broccoli: it took only a few minutes to make a delicious and colourful dinner which pleased everyone!

INGREDIENTS for 4 portions

  • 400 gr of pasta
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 head of broccoli, stem diced, head cut into florets
  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp of grated pecorino cheese
  • salt
  • pepper

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and place the trimmed broccoli crown in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.  Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions in the same pan used for the broccoli. While the pasta’s cooking, cut the garlic into small pieces and put it in a frying pan with the olive oil. Before the garlic starts turning brown, add the broccoli and cook for 3/4 minutes.

Mix most of the cheese with the eggs, keeping a small handful back for sprinkling over later. Add a pinch of salt and a generous amount of pepper.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the frying pan. Continue heating and stirring for a minute, allowing the pasta to soak up the flavour of the broccoli and garlic.

Take the pan off the heat and quickly pour in the eggs and cheese. Using tongs or a long fork, lift up the spaghetti so it mixes easily with the egg mixture, which thickens but doesn’t scramble. Add extra pasta cooking water to keep it saucy, a few tablespoons should do it. Taste and add a little salt, if needed.

Serve immediately with a little sprinkling of the remaining cheese and a grating of black pepper. If the dish does get a little dry before serving, splash in some more hot pasta water.


I believe that the best wine to enhance Rita’s Veggie Carbonara is a Chardonnay.

I would like to recommend Casale del Giglio Lazio Chardonnay 2019, which you can easily buy online ( https://www.vinissimus.co.uk/en/wine/casale-del-giglio-chardonnay / ).

This is not an expensive wine, it respects traditions and is a perfect match for our carbonara.  

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