An overhead shot of a skillet filled with no-bacon carbonara.

For three weeks in a row, this has been our Tuesday night dinner: pasta tossed with a sautéed onion, a ton of greens, and carbonara sauce: 2 eggs whisked with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 cup parmesan, and 1/4 cup pasta cooking water.

Why Tuesday? Tuesday is CSA pick-up day, and recent deliveries have been loaded with spinach, tatsoi, broccoli rabe and various other greens. After unpacking our CSA, instead of stashing the greens in the fridge, I plunge them into a bowl of water to soak, set a large pot of water on to boil, slice an onion, and whisk together the sauce. The whole dish comes together in about 20 minutes.

I love the addition of bacon found in classic carbonara recipes (as here, here, and here), but it’s not missed in this version. And though the heap of greens wilts down to seemingly nothing, I know it’s there, doing all the good things a heap of greens ought to be doing.

Happy Friday, Everyone. Have a wonderful weekend.

Here’s how you make this weeknight, no-bacon, greens-loaded pasta carbonara: Gather all of your greens and …
A bowl filled with various dark, leafy greens.

soak them in water.
A bowl of greens soaking in water.

Meanwhile, put on a large pot of water and salt it generously. Find a box or bag of pasta in your pantry:
A package of pappardelle pasta.

Meanwhile, gather your sauce ingredients:
A table with a lemon, bowl of parmesan, onion, pepper flakes, and two eggs on it.

Whisk together 2 eggs with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and, when the pasta is almost finished cooking, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid:
A liquid measure filled with parmesan, eggs, lemon, and pasta cooking liquid.

Sauté an onion:
An overhead shot of an onion being sautéed with crushed red pepper flakes.

Add your drained greens:
An overhead shot of a skillet filled with greens.

Wilt them down:
An overhead shot of a skillet filled with sautéed greens.

Add the pasta:
An overhead shot of a skillet filled with sautéed greens and cooked pasta.

Toss with carbonara sauce:
An overhead shot of pasta carbonara in a skillet.

Serve immediately with lots of fresh cracked pepper:
A plate of no-bacon carbonara loaded with greens.

A bowl of no-bacon carbonara loaded with greens.

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Weeknight Carbonara: No Bacon, Loaded with Greens

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Adapted from a favorite carbonara recipe seen previously here three times:

It’s pictured here with pappardelle egg noodles only because that’s what I had on hand when I decided to make/photograph this. I like this equally with linguini or bucatini.

Note: I give a range of pasta amounts because depending on how many people you’re cooking for you may want more or less pasta. And same for the greens — it’s pictured here with 1 lb. of greens, but as you can see from the photos, the greens wilt down to nothing, so 2 lbs of greens would be fine. You may have to add them incrementally if you use 2 lbs.


  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 pounds greens, soaked in water to allow dirt to settle
  • 1/2 to ¾ pound bucatini, linguini, or pappardelle
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus more to taste


  1. Set a large pot of salted water (I use 1 tablespoon kosher salt) to boil. In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the onion, immediately turn the heat down to medium, season with a pinch of kosher salt, and sauté stirring occasionally, until soft and just turning to color, 7 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer greens to a colander to drain—it’s OK if some of the water clings to the greens.
  2. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the onions and stir for 30 seconds. Add all of the greens. (Note: If you are using 2 lbs. of greens, you may have to add them incrementally to the pan.) Cook over medium to medium-high heat until greens shrink way down—use tongs to flip the greens around and help them wilt. Season with a pinch of salt. Turn off the heat.
  3. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package instructions. Reserve ½ cup (or more) of the pasta cooking liquid. In a medium bowl or liquid measure, whisk together eggs, parmesan, and juice. Whisk ¼ cup pasta water into egg mixture.
  4. Drain pasta and immediately add to the pan with the onions and greens. Pour egg mixture into pan and toss with tongs to combine, turning heat to low or medium if greens have cooled way down. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Taste. Add more lemon or more of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to taste. Sprinkle pasta with more cheese if desired and serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, Italian