Spaghetti carbonara with a twist! Swap the bacon out with the savoury, creamy halloumi and you've got yourself a silky halloumi carbonara. That tastes sooo good! Meatless Monday meal, tick.
If you've made a carbonara before, you know it's the ultimate quick and easy comfort food. This version? Nothing short of that. Get a good colour on the halloumi and you've got yourself a budget-friendly, delicious, meat-free meal, quick!
Love a quick and easy pasta dish? Give this popular 15 minute Easy Garlic Prawn Pasta a go!
Sometimes simple is best. This super easy and tasty halloumi carbonara doesn't need much.
Optional; sprinkle some finely chopped fresh parsley to freshen this pasta up!
Step by step instructions
All up, this pasta dish takes just under 20 minutes from prep to serve. Sounds good right?
First things first. Put the kettle on and get the pasta cooking. Remember! always season the pasta cooking water with salt. Generously. Before adding the pasta in.
This step will ensure the finished dish is flavourful through and through. No longer will you be having bland pasta now that you're in the know ;).
Freshly grated parmesan cheese is a must! Ready shredded parmesan cheese from the packet are convenient, I know. However, to prevent the parmesan cheese from sticking to each other, they have added anti-caking agents. When it comes to creating a silky, creamy and cheesy sauce for this halloumi carbonara, you want the parmesan cheese to melt nicely into the pasta.
Anti-caking agent is not your friend here. It'll add a grainy texture to the sauce and grainy spaghetti carbonara? No, thank you.
Grate your own cheese, it tastes better, has a better texture and it's more economical.
This is a simple, however, technical dish at the same time.
The #1, most important technique to remember when making this dish is to turn the heat off before tossing the pasta through the whisked egg and parmesan cheese mixture. This will create the most amazing, silky and creamy sauce. Without any added cream!
Another very important thing to note is to fry the halloumi to golden brown. This caramelisation process will add complexity to its flavour and as I always say, colour = flavour.
To serve, get generous with the freshly grated parmesan cheese and add extra heat with some ground black pepper.
Tips & tricks to make this delicious
- Turn the heat off before adding the whisked egg and parmesan cheese mixture. This will prevent the eggs from turning into scrambled eggs! This brings takes us to the next point.
- Add pasta cooking water into the pan to stop it from sizzling. This does 2 things.
- 1. Lowers the heat in the pan (in addition to turning the heat off completely) and thus no scrambled eggs.
- 2. Starch in the cooking water will emulsify and create an amazing, silky and creamy sauce for the carbonara.
- Boil pasta to al dente then take it out. It'll continue to cook (to perfection) and soften as it's being tossed in the pan with the carbonara sauce.
- Use freshly grated parmesan cheese. Always. Reasons as per above.
Good to know
Yes, however, it tastes soooo much better when it has been pan fried or grilled.
The most authentic carbonara uses pecorino romano which is very similar to parmesan cheese. The key distinction between pecorino and parmesan is that pecorino is made of sheep's milk whereas parmesan is made of cow's milk. Both are absolutely delicious to use! I used parmesan cheese for this recipe.
Very simply, freshly grated pecorino romano mixed in whisked eggs and pasta cooking water. This, combined with fat (in the case of this recipe, extra virgin olive oil) tossed through the pasta creates the creamy, silky beloved sauce.
Truly authentic carbonara does not use any cream! But then again.. this is a carbonara with a twist.
Enjoyed this recipe? Let me know your thoughts/questions by dropping a note in the comments section below! I'd love to hear from you 🙂
- 200 g / 7oz dried spaghetti
- 150 g / 5oz halloumi cheese cut into 1cm/½inch cubes
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese or pecorino romano, freshly grated
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Cook pasta according to packet instructions, till al dente. (note 1) Remember to season the water with salt.
- Whilst pasta is cooking, combine parmesan cheese and egg in a bowl. Whisk well, set aside.
- Proceed to the following steps when the pasta has about 5 minutes left in cooking time.
- In a non-stick pan, add olive oil, halloumi and a smashed clove of garlic (skin on). Fry the halloumi on medium heat. (note 2)
- Do not toss or flip the halloumi around, allow one side to sizzle and turn golden brown before flipping with a spatular and brown the other side. This will take about 3 - 4 minutes. (note 3)
- Remove and discard the garlic (and skin!) with a pair of tongs. It has served its purpose.
- The pasta should be ready and cooked to al dente now. Add pasta and ⅓ - ½ cup of pasta cooking water into the pan. Season heavily with black pepper. Toss pasta through like a boss or use a pair of tongs. Turn the heat off. (note 4)
- The pan should no longer be sizzling. Now, slowly pour the whisked egg and parmesan cheese mixture into the pan, in a circular motion.
- Very quickly now, toss the pasta through again and ensure it's thoroughly mixed and pasta is creamy, silky and exciting.
- Serve immediately, with extra parmesan cheese and black pepper.
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