What’s better than a plate of creamy Spaghetti Carbonara? Doubling up on the porky goodness and serving the pasta scattered with crispy prosciutto crumbs. The toasted bread crumbs not only add incredible flavor but also great texture in every bite.
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Although Carbonara is simply irresistible when served on its own, I like mixing up it every now and then. Toasted bread crumbs aren’t a traditional addition to this Italian classic, however Pangrattato (or crispy flavored bread crumbs) is often served with certain Italian pasta dishes. It’s also called “Poor man’s Parmesan” and is a great topping to add to a creamy plate of pasta. It’s an optional add-on however so feel free to leave it out.
For the Carbonara
- Pancetta. Guanciale is traditionally used but pancetta or bacon can be used instead.
- Cheese. Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.
- Extra-virgin olive oil.
- Spaghetti. Use any long pasta of your choice.
- Salt and black pepper.
For the Prosciutto Crumbs
- Bread. I used ciabatta but any day-old bread will work.
- Prosciutto. Parma ham/Speck/Coppa can be substituted.
- Fresh garlic cloves.
- Fresh parsley.
- Salt and black pepper.
How to make Spaghetti Carbonara with prosciutto crumbs
Start by making the bread crumbs. Tear bread into rough chunks then place in baking dish and add the prosciutto. Drizzle with a few teaspoons of olive oil then add minced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine then place in a hot oven to roast for 10-15 minutes until the bread and prosciutto are crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is relatively fine. I like leaving a little bit of texture so I choose to not blend it too finely.
Follow the instructions in the recipe card to make the Spaghetti Carbonara. The Carbonara sauce can be made while you wait for the pasta water to boil, making it a super simple and quick recipe for dinner.
Once the Carbonara is done, serve in bowls topped with the prosciutto crumbs.
Can I make this ahead?
I wouldn’t recommend making the pasta and sauce ahead as it comes together so quickly. The bread crumbs can be made ahead and frozen for up to 2 months or kept in the fridge for up to a week. Warm in a pan set over medium-high heat to crisp up.
Spaghetti Carbonara with prosciutto crumbs
For the bread crumbs
- 2 cups bread roughly torn
- 4 strips prosciutto
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
For the Carbonara
- 500 g (1lb) spaghetti
- 100 g (3.5oz) pancetta, guanciale or bacon diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 egg
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start by making the bread crumbs.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F.
- Tear bread into rough chunks then place in baking dish and add the prosciutto.
- Drizzle with a few teaspoons of olive oil then add minced garlic and season with salt and pepper.
- Toss to combine then place in a hot oven to roast for 10-15 minutes until the bread and prosciutto are crisp.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is relatively fine. I like leaving a little bit of texture so I choose to not blend it too finely.
- To make the carbonara, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt.
- Add the pasta to the water once boiling and cook until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of cooking water and drain the pasta.
- While the pasta cooks, set a large pan over medium-high heat and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the guanciale/pancetta/bacon and allow to cook until golden brown.
- Whisk together a whole egg, egg yolks and finely grated cheeses with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Once the pasta is cooked and the pancetta is golden brown, add the pasta to the pan with the pancetta and reduce the heat.
- Pour the egg sauce over the pasta with 1 cup of pasta cooking water and toss continuously until the sauce starts to thicken and coat the pasta.
- Add more pasta water if necessary. It's important to do this over low heat to prevent the egg from curdling. Once the sauce is thick and creamy and the pasta is coated, serve the pasta in bowls topped with the prosciutto bread crumbs.