We Cooked Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Not That Bad For You’ Pasta Carbonara Recipe (and Loved It)
There is one thing we know to be true in this crazy world: Jennifer Aniston and her husband Justin Theroux really love pasta carbonara.
“Justin and I make [it] every couple of weeks,” the actress (and 2016 World’s Most Beautiful Woman) told PEOPLE of her occasional diet splurge in this week’s cover story.
Indeed, this is not the first time that Aniston has made mention of the dish. Earlier this month, she told Elle that she credits her husband for reintroducing pasta into her life, making mention of the “not that bad for you” version they make that consists of one egg, a little cheese, turkey bacon and some pasta water. She’s also mentioned that she uses gluten-free pasta and adds red onion, garlic and some low-fat milk—but absolutely no cream, butter or oil.
Armed with the knowledge, tools and hunger to pull it off, we took to our test kitchen to recreate the couple’s signature dish. As any carbonara lover knows, the simple dish is traditionally pretty rich. The creamy, golden sauce is based in egg yolks aplenty, and pancetta or bacon provides the porky goodness that’s hard to replicate. So could this lightened-up version pass our test?
The verdict: SO MUCH YES. In fact, some of us even preferred it—especially considering we had to go back to work and not curl up and take a nap afterwards. Using the starchy cooking water from the pasta is a great tip because creates a creamy sauce that mimics the texture of the eggs. And the turkey bacon, while perhaps a disappointing in its whole state, lends all the smoky, meaty goodness you want when you chop it up.
Scroll down for our version of the recipe below, then feel empowered to go make it yourself at home.
Spaghetti Carbonara a la Jen and Justin
1 lb. gluten-free or regular spaghetti
4 slices turkey bacon, diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
⅓ cup low-fat milk
⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add turkey bacon and red onion and cook until bacon is crisp and onions are slightly caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
3. Salt the boiling water generously, add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve ¾ cup of the pasta water and drain the rest. Toss the hot pasta in the skillet with the turkey bacon.
4. In a bowl, whisk together egg, milk, and cheese. Add in about ½ cup of the hot pasta water, whisking constantly to prevent the egg from scrambling.
5. Pour egg mixture in the skillet with pasta and toss to coat. If it feels a little dry, add the remaining pasta water. Turn the heat on medium low and cook until sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Season with lots of black pepper and more salt, to taste. Remove from heat and served with extra parmesan, if desired.
For more of Aniston’s revealing interview, including beauty tips and secrets she’s learned over the years, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
—Shay Spence, @chezspence