This Zucchini Carbonara is a reimagined version of the traditional pasta carbonara, featuring zucchini noodles, golden pan-fried pancetta, and a creamy parmesan sauce. It’s an ideal dinner option that’s low-carb and keto-friendly.
Zucchini Carbonara: A Healthier Take on a Classic Italian Dish
Zucchini Carbonara also known as Zoodles Carbonara, is my version of the classic spaghetti carbonara, only lightened-up, yet very flavorful thanks to the pancetta, spices, herbs, garlic, and a nice dose of parmesan cheese. I promise, you won’t miss the starchy pasta.
Originating from Italy, Carbonara is a wonderful dish featuring spaghetti tossed in a luxurious creamy sauce, enriched with pancetta and cheese. This beloved recipe was a staple in my husband’s childhood and remains a firm favorite.
Adhering to his sugar-free, low-carb diet meant sacrificing this carb-laden, calorie-dense meal. Therefore, I took it upon myself to reimagine, reinvent, and present a delicious version of his go-to pasta dinner by swapping out his beloved pasta with zucchini noodles.
How To Make Zucchini Noodles
- To make spaghetti-like zucchini noodles, you will need a spiralizer, which can be found online. Simply wash and trim the ends of your zucchini and run it through the spiralizer to create long, spaghetti-like noodles.
- To make wider zucchini noodles, all you’ll need is a vegetable peeler. Wash and dry the zucchini, then peel the zucchini lengthwise with the vegetable peeler to create long strips. Lay the zucchini strips flat on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and set aside to dry.
- Zucchini noodles can be served raw or cooked, depending on your preference. They can be sautéed with your favorite pasta sauce, or stir fried to make a simple and refreshing dish.
How To Make Zucchini Carbonara
- 2 pounds zucchini
- pancetta or bacon
- 1 egg + 3 egg yolks
- grated Parmesan cheese
- crushed red pepper
- salt & fresh ground black pepper
- Starchy pasta is benched in this version. Instead, we’re reaching for our vegetable peeler to transform zucchini into pasta-like noodles. The process of peeling the zucchini into long, thin strips is straightforward, and the overall dish takes just 20 minutes to prepare. The result is a creamy, satisfying dish that makes you forget you’re eating veggie noodles.
- The key to perfect zucchini strips lies in drying them. After slicing, we’ll lightly salt each “noodle”, then lay them on paper towels for a few minutes. After they’re dry, it’s time to hit the skillet.
- As we’re drying the zucchini, we can prepare the pancetta with crushed garlic and a dash of butter. The zucchini is then added to the skillet for a brief couple of minutes before the creamy sauce joins the party.
- To craft the creamy sauce, we’ll mix egg yolks, parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper. Once done, we’ll remove the skillet from the heat and quickly toss the zucchini in the parmesan sauce.
- Finally, we’ll plate up the zucchini noodles, garnish with basil, and serve.
Tips for Success
- Ensure the zucchini strips are thoroughly dried to achieve the best-tasting sauce. Zucchini is water-dense, and if not dried properly, it can dilute the egg and cheese sauce.
- Although this recipe calls for two pounds of zucchini, it’s important to note that it’s less filling than spaghetti. So, while it’s meant for four servings, don’t be surprised if two of you finish it all.
- Lastly, remember to take the skillet off the heat before mixing in the sauce. The heat from the zucchini noodles is sufficient to cook the eggs. Keep tossing until everything is well coated with the cheese sauce.
- Chicken or Shrimp: You could add some protein like grilled chicken or sautéed shrimp. This will not only make the dish more filling but also add a layer of complexity to the flavors.
- Vegetables: If you’d like to add more veggies, consider cherry tomatoes, peas, or sliced mushrooms. They can be lightly sautéed and mixed in with the zucchini noodles.
- Herbs and Spices: Fresh herbs like basil, parsley, or even a little bit of mint can add a tasty twist.
- Lemon Zest: For a bit of tanginess, consider adding a teaspoon or so of fresh lemon zest to the dish. This can brighten up the flavors and balance out the rich, creamy sauce.
This easy low-carb pasta dish takes about 20 minutes to make and is so rich and creamy that you definitely won’t mind the make-believe noodles. Having said that, here are some serving suggestions to add and make it a complete meal:
- Bread: Although this is a low-carb dish, a side of my slow cooker bread can be wonderful for mopping up the creamy sauce if your dietary restrictions allow. To keep everything low-carb, try my cloud bread.
- For a Hearty Meal: If you’re looking for a more filling meal, you could consider serving the Zucchini Carbonara as a side with a spatchcock grilled chicken or a pan-seared salmon fillet.
- Wine Pairing: A nice glass of wine can elevate any meal. For this dish, consider serving a light, crisp white wine. An Italian Pinot Grigio or Verdicchio could be an excellent choice, as they both pair well with creamy sauces and cheese.
Pasta Carbonara with Zucchini Noodles Recipe
- 2 pounds zucchini
- pat of butter
- 4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole egg
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes,
- salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- fresh basil ribbons, for garnish
- freshly grated parmesan cheese, for garnish
- fresh ground black pepper, for garnish
- Peel zucchini lengthwise with a vegetable peeler to create long strips.
- Arrange the zucchini strips flat on a paper towel-lined baking sheet; lightly salt each strip and set aside to dry.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the diced pancetta or bacon and garlic; cook for 3 minutes or until golden crisp, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, combine the eggs, cheese, crushed red pepper, salt, and ground black pepper in a mixing bowl; whisk until well incorporated and set aside.
- Using a paper towel, wipe down the zucchini strips, add them to the skillet with the pancetta, and cook for 1 minute.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and immediately pour in the eggs and cheese sauce.
- Using two forks, one in each hand, continually lift up the zucchini and pancetta so it mixes easily with the egg mixture, which thickens and cooks but doesn’t scramble; mix until everything is coated.
- Garnish with basil, ground black pepper, and grated parmesan.
- Serve immediately.
- Drying The Zucchini: Ensure zucchini strips are thoroughly dried to prevent a watery sauce.
- Portion Control: This dish may not be as filling as its pasta counterpart. Be prepared to serve larger portions.
- Cooking The Sauce: Remove the skillet from the heat before adding the sauce to avoid overcooking the eggs.
- Protein Boost: Add cooked chicken, salmon, or sautéed shrimp.
- Extra Veggies: Try cherry tomatoes, peas, or mushrooms.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.