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A plate of pasta carbonara with leeks and lemon on a plate.

Pasta Carbonara — Easiest Weeknight Dinner


Adapted from: Everyday Food

Note: If you want to make this vegetarian, use 3 tablespoons of olive oil in place of the bacon. 


  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces or 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 leeks (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, soaked in cold water and drained
  • 3/4 pound pasta, such as campanelle, orecchiette, or gemelli 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving 
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped 
  • 1 pound of asparagus, finely chopped (optional)


  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil (I use 1 tablespoon kosher salt).
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons fat from skillet. (Alternatively use 3 tablespoons of olive oil in place of the bacon.) Add the leeks, season lightly with salt to taste, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are soft and beginning to brown at the edges, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add pasta to pot and cook al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1 to 2 cups of the pasta cooking liquid. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Whisk 1/4 cup pasta water into egg mixture.
  4. If using the asparagus, add it to the pot of pasta, then drain the pot immediately. Add the pasta and asparagus to the skillet with the leeks and immediately add the egg mixture, along with the bacon, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add more pasta cooking as needed. Serve immediately with more parmesan and pepper on the side.  
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian, American

Keywords: leeks, lemon, pasta, carbonara