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Recipe for Nutty Quinoa Carbonara

Quinoa Carbonara. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.

Quinoa Carbonara. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.

If you've never made carbonara, consider adding it to your weekday dinner lineup. It is a traditional Italian pasta dish in which eggs are mixed with cheese and then swirled into cooked pasta just before serving. The result is a luscious bowl of food you won't believe contains so few ingredients. This recipe swaps quinoa for spaghetti to great, protein-packed effect.

The original recipe calls for bacon, which I don't really keep in the house and didn't have time to buy when I cooked this in a pinch for dinner one night. In the end, it didn't matter: My husband quickly declared this one of his two favorite meals I've ever made. (The other: chicken and dumplings.)

If you have bacon, by all means use it, but walnuts do a tremendous job of subbing in for meat, their nuttiness deepening when roasted to add a layer of umami to the dish.


Nutty Quinoa Carbonara


  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt
  • 1 cup white quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add walnuts and cook for about 3 minutes, until fragrant and toasty. Stir often and be careful not to let them burn. Transfer to a paper towel and season with salt.
  2. Add onion to the saucepan along with a splash more olive oil and cook until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the water and quinoa to the pot. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, and then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  4. While the quinoa is simmering, beat the eggs in a small bowl. When the quinoa is done cooking, immediately drizzle in the egg, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until the quinoa is evenly coated with the egg. Stir until the egg is cooked, about 1 minute. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and several grinds of black pepper. Divide between as many serving bowls as you like and top each bowl with some of the walnuts and a bit more cheese. Serve immediately. This recipe served my husband and I for dinner and there was about 1 serving left; it would serve more people as a side dish. Serves 2 to 4.
Source: Adapted from Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh

Recipe for Nutty Quinoa Carbonara 07/24/17 [Last modified: Sunday, July 23, 2017 10:38pm]
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