15-minutes and a 6 simple ingredients is all that stands between you and this delicious new take on carbonara. Following the traditional method for making creamy carbonara without cream, dry tortellini is what gives this recipe a fun new twist.
Cook the tortellini in unsalted water for about 1 minute less than the package states - until almost done. Then take off the heat and drain the pasta water, but make sure to reserve at least 1 dl / ½ cup for use in the sauce.
While the tortellini is cooking, dice the bacon and place in a cold pan. Place the pan over medium heat and sear the bacon until cooked but not crispy. Then take off the heat, but keep the bacon with its fat in the pan.
In a bowl, mix together grated pecorino cheese, parmesan cheese, egg yolks and fresh ground black pepper.
Just when the pasta is done, bring out the pan with bacon and bacon fat and place the tortellini in the pan. Do not place over heat! Add some pasta water as well, starting with 2 Tbsp, and mix quickly. Then add the cheese & egg mixture and mix well, adding more pasta water if the pasta looks dry, until the sauce is creamy. Taste test and add salt if needed.
Serve immediately, and top with more cheese and fresh ground black pepper if desired!
Ingredient notes & substitutions
Bacon can be switched for pancetta or guanciale, which are actually more traditional choices
Parmesan cheese and pecorino cheese can both be used - or just use one of them. I like to use both since parmesan has such great flavor and using only the saltier pecorino cheese can make it a bit too salty for me.
Tortellini - I like dry tortellini since it's not as easy to overcook as fresh, and super easy to have on hand, but you can use fresh or frozen as well. As for the filling you can use any filling you enjoy - I'd recommend ham & cheese, plain cheese, or mushroom.
Egg yolks can be swapped for whole eggs, but then keep a closer eye on the temperature when making the sauce
Fresh ground black pepper is best for this recipe, but pre-ground works
Tips & tricks
Don't salt the pasta water - since bacon, pecorino and tortellini are all pretty salty it's better to add salt later if needed - usually I find it's not
Let the tortellini simmer, not boil wildly, to keep all that filling inside
Don't overcook the tortellini - it will keep cooking a bit when you add it to the pan with the sauce
Start your bacon in a cold pan to allow as much fat as possible to seep out
Don't make the sauce over a heat source as that will likely make your pan too hot. Instead, take the pan off the heat and make it there.
Make sure your pan is not too hot or your egg yolks might scramble. Having it sit off the heat for a while before adding the pasta usually does the trick.
Add the pasta fresh and hot from the pot to make sure the pasta & pasta water is hot enough to melt the cheese and create a creamy sauce.
Use fresh ground black pepper - for this dish it really makes a difference
Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days