Cooking Carbonara: It’s easier and cheaper than you think

Audrey Weiss

There’s only one thing I love more than food: saving money. While splurging on a nice meal here and there is good for the soul, imagine a world where mom’s spaghetti or dad’s tamales were right at your fingertips.

This can be your reality.

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Last week I got a call from my roommate asking me to teach her how to cook. While I love to cook, I’m just as broke as any other college student so feeding another person can be difficult. So, this column is the best way to share my pearls of cuisine wisdom.

What’s for dinner? Fresh carbonara.

a bowl of pasta
A bowl of fresh carbonara, topped with spinach, onions, and mushrooms.

The most affordable ingredients for this week’s recipe came from King Soopers.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 (1 lb) box pasta spaghetti, cost: $1.49, 
  • 5 white mushrooms, cost: $2.19
  • 1 large white onion, cost: $0.75
  • 10 oz spinach, cost: $1.49
  • 5 eggs, cost: $2.99
  • ¾ cup parmesan                                                                                                  
  • $2.99
  • 5 slices bacon (optional)                                                                                      
  • $4.99
  • Total: $16.86      

Directions: 

1. Bring four quarts of water to boil on medium-high heat. Add salt and olive oil respectively

2. In a medium saucepan, heat some olive oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I like to toss a piece of onion in to see when my oil is hot enough. When the onion starts sizzling, add diced bacon. If you choose not to use bacon, toss in your diced mushrooms and onions and the entire bag of spinach.

Spinach shrinks down as it cooks, so don’t be scared to toss it all in. Stir the pan periodically to cook the vegetable evenly. When the onions are translucent, remove the pan from the heat.

3. When the water is boiling, add your entire box of pasta. While it cooks, push down any noodles that stick out above the water line.

4. In a small bowl, beat your eggs and add the parmesan. Beat once more, adding salt and pepper as desired.

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5. Once your pasta is tender to the touch (this is what the cooking world calls “Al dente”), drain and return to the empty pot. Make sure you turn the heat off at this point, but the pot is resting on a hot stovetop. Add your vegetables and stir until evenly combined.

6. Here’s the hard part: add your egg mixture over the pasta and stir rapidly. If you don’t stir the pasta quickly, the eggs will cook, and you’ll end up with a pot of scrambled eggs. You want to stir for about 2-3 minutes, nonstop until the sauce resembles a creamy butter sauce. Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top and a few cracks of black pepper.

7. Enjoy!

Collegian reporter Audrey Weiss can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @Audkward.