When you think of Italian food, what springs to mind? Spaghetti Bolognese, Gnocchi alla Romana, Tiramisu and Carbonara?
Carbonara is up there with the classics for many Italians, but it can be a little peculiar for anyone not familiar with it; it’s made from eggs, cheese, and bacon.
Carbonara is quite filling but not very rich or stuffy like some dishes.
It’s surprisingly light and tastes delicious.
The ingredients allow you to taste each one, with the egg yolks providing richness and the cheese adding saltiness.
The bacon gives it a lovely salty crunch, which is great for texture.
However, it’s very easy to get wrong.
The eggs need to be added off the heat to stay creamy and don’t scramble.
It also needs to be eaten immediately – it doesn’t keep well, so it should only be made when you intend to eat it all in one go.
Carbonara is the perfect way to start a convivial evening with friends and family, enjoying hearty Italian food in good company.
There are many ways to serve carbonara, but you can also make many other delicious dishes to go with it.
In this article, we will look at eight of the best.
What to Serve with Carbonara? 8 BEST Side Dishes
Before considering serving carbonara as a complete meal, one should consider how it is typically served.
In Italy, pasta carbonara is usually eaten as part of a multi-course meal for lunch or dinner featuring appetizers and a main dish with side dishes before dessert.
For this reason, most foods go well with Italian cuisine because it has such a wide range of flavors and possibilities.
This diversity of flavor and texture makes carbonara such a complete dish.
Without further ado, here are eight great options that go well with carbonara.
1 – Roasted Green Beans
Roasting vegetables gives them an earthy, nutty flavor that goes well with meats and pasta dishes.
It also adds a new element of texture to the dish.
One of the most delicious veggie preparations is roasted green beans.
The trick to making these green beans crispy on the outside but tender inside is blanching them in boiling water first.
This keeps the green beans from turning to mush.
It’s important to stick to fresh green beans for this dish.
Frozen ones don’t hold up in the oven as fresh beans do.
This side dish is perfect for an easy weeknight dinner, especially if you’re serving chicken or steak with it.
2 – Green Salad with Radicchio and Goat Cheese
If you’re serving carbonara for lunch or dinner, pairing it with a fresh salad is always an easy choice.
This green salad has vibrant flavors of sweet and tart fruits like cranberries, citrus segments, pomegranate, red onions, walnuts, and the nutty taste of radicchio lettuce.
The dressing brings all these flavors together with its unique blend of cinnamon, clove, honey, and red wine vinegar.
The radicchio lettuce is bitter but balances well with the sweet fruits in the salad.
It also adds a new texture to your carbonara meal.
Be sure to serve this salad immediately after dressing it.
3 – Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
This side dish is the perfect addition to any carbonara meal.
It’s also super easy to make.
All you need are some garlic cloves, olive oil, and spinach.
To keep the spinach from turning into a soggy mess, sauté quickly in hot oil.
It’s important not to overcrowd the pan as you’re cooking these greens because they’ll steam instead of browning if there are too many leaves.
When wilting the spinach down, make sure to turn up the heat.
This way, the leaves will sear quickly and won’t get soggy.
4 – Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Anchovies
Like spinach, broccoli rabe also tastes great sautéed in olive oil with garlic cloves and anchovy fillets.
This side dish is perfect for adding a seafood element to your meal.
It’s also packed with flavor from the anchovies, briny and salty.
You can also leave out the anchovy fillets if you’re not a fan of these spicy little fish, but it will greatly impact the flavor of the broccoli rabe.
5 – Steamed Veggies
If you’re not a fan of the taste of carbonara, it might be because of all that creamy bacon and garlic.
It’s important to balance the flavors in this dish by serving it with some vegetables too.
Steamed veggies are great because you can control what goes into them, and the method of cooking ensures they don’t lose their precious nutrients.
You can steam pretty much any vegetable for this side dish.
Just make sure to cut them up into bite-sized pieces and follow proper steaming times for each vegetable.
6 – Classic Caesar Salad
If you’re looking for a classic salad to pair with your carbonara, you can’t go wrong with a Caesar salad.
This option is also great because it’s easy and fast to make.
All you need for this dish are romaine lettuce leaves, garlic cloves, anchovy fillets (optional), olive oil, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese.
The trick to making a great Caesar dressing is emulsifying all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor until they’re smooth and creamy.
This ensures that the flavors blend well rather than separate into layers.
This easy salad tastes best when you let all the ingredients meld for at least 30 minutes before serving it.
7 – Pull-Apart Garlic Bread
If you’re looking for a carb-heavy side dish to pair with carbonara, look no further than this garlic bread recipe.
All it takes is some butter, fresh parsley, garlic cloves, and Italian bread.
This simple side is perfect if you just want something to mop up all that extra sauce on your plate.
It’s also a great option if you’re looking for fresh flavors to contrast the salty bacon and cheese in your carbonara.
This bread is best-served piping hot right out of the oven.
Just remember to allow it enough time to cool down before diving in.
8 – Parmesan Chips
Parmesan chips are another easy side that tastes great with carbonara.
All you need is some fresh Italian parsley, garlic cloves, and Parmesan cheese.
The key to this dish is slicing the cheese thinly and using a deft hand.
If you cut it too thick, these chips will take forever to cook, and you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
You also need to keep a watchful eye on the oil when frying because it can burn easily.
Also, make sure to turn the Parmesan chips frequently as they fry.
Parmesan chips are best served hot and crispy right after they come out of the oil.
Just remember to serve them with a dipping sauce.
Carbonara is a simple dish with many nuances and tricks for creating delicious flavors.
That being said, the beauty of carbonara is its simplicity.
With just a few ingredients, you can create an amazing meal that will leave your guests wanting more.
When pairing your carbonara with side dishes, you need to consider the flavor profile of each.
Remember to keep a balanced dish by serving your carbonara with vegetables too.
Also, keep in mind the flavors you want to highlight or mask with your side dish.
Most importantly, make sure your side dish isn’t too complicated or time-consuming to prepare.