Low Calorie Main Dish Pasta

Tomato & Asparagus Carbonara

September 3, 2012

I bookmarked this recipe to make without fully reading its ingredients. To me, carbonara means bacon. I’m not sure if that’s right or if it means eggs and bacon or maybe just eggs. So one of you smarties chime in and let me know. This Tomato & Asparagus Carbonara doesn’t involve bacon. Which was a bit of a disappointment, but I am a fan of sauces made from eggs. It makes sauces creamy and smooth and delicious.

Tomato & Asparagus Carbonara

So, how’s it taste?

Well…to be honest it was kind of plain. I love pasta, love asparagus, love tomatoes, so I’m not sure what this dish is missing. There’s just not a lot to it. The egg does make a creamy sauce, but it’s very light. I could live with that if it had more pizzazz. It would be a great dish if you feel like you’ve had a lot of heavy meals and just need a meatless dish to feel back to normal. Maybe adding more yummy veggies like squash or zucchini would help. While I love tomatoes, I hate tomato skins. It bugs me when fresh tomatoes are cooked and the inside kind of disappears and all that’s left are those little tomato skins. That’s what happened to this dish. I’d suggest following the directions using only half of the cherry tomatoes and tossing in the rest at the end. I think the tomatoes cook a bit too long for my liking and I was left with mostly tomato skins. I wanted those big, juicy tomatoes and that wasn’t the result. Not a bad dish and it is low in calories, but I want my calories to count in the taste department. This one needs a bit more work.

Tomato & Asparagus Carbonara

Cooking Light, August 2012
makes 4 servings
per serving: 335 calories, 8.7g fat, 50.6g carbs, 5.2g fiber, 14.7g protein


3 qts. water
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. (1-inch) diagonally cut trimmed asparagus
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 oz. pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup) (I used Asiago)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
8 oz. uncooked penne pasta
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned


1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add asparagus; sauté 3 1/2 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add tomatoes; cook for 6 minutes or until tomatoes are tender.

3. Combine cheese, salt, pepper, and egg in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

4. Add pasta to boiling water; cook 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and toss pasta immediately with egg mixture. Add tomato mixture, tossing until sauce thickens. Divide pasta equally among 4 bowls. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon basil. Serve immediately.

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  • Barbara September 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Maybe use sundried tomatoes instead of fresh? I’d add some artichoke hearts in there too & finish it off with a little more freshly ground pepper.

    • Leah September 3, 2012 at 11:24 am

      Great suggestions! I think bulking it up with more veggies would help for sure.

  • Sues September 4, 2012 at 6:44 am

    It looks delicious and pretty! But yes, bacon makes everything better 🙂

    • Leah September 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      100% agree!

  • amy @ fearless homemaker September 4, 2012 at 10:18 am

    This looks amazing. Want!

  • Julia September 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    This was in the Vegetarian section of the magazine and the title had “carbonara” – with quotes, which I think explains the lack of bacon.

    • Leah September 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      I understood that part, although I think actually adding bacon would make it tastier!

  • Tawnya September 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I can’t speak for anyone else but this dish looks mouth watering fantastic just the way it is! I MIGHT add broccoli to mine cuz I’m a broccoli fan! But it looks amazing!!

    • Leah September 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Why thanks! I thought the dish was pretty too, just needed a little something extra in the flavor department. Broccoli could work! I had a comment on Facebook that toasted pine nuts would be a nice addition, too. I just might have to remake this one soon!

  • Karen September 14, 2012 at 10:17 am

    This dish sounds wonderful . . . The sun dried tomatoes are a great idea and I would add a few red pepper flakes in for some spice. Have to tell you though I’d have to put a little bacon in there somewhere – maybe crumbled over the top when serving.

    • Leah September 14, 2012 at 10:19 am

      I should have totally thought about adding some heat! I’m not going to argue with you on the bacon, lol. Bacon fixes everything!

  • Valentino March 17, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Replace cherry tomato with julienne roma tomato and add pepper flakes.
    Sauté first pepper flakes 30 seconds add garlic until began taking color add asparagus cook 1 or 2 add tomato and if you like add a little cream.
    Always keep some pasta water to make your sauce creamy.

    • Leah Short March 17, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Thanks for the excellent suggestions, Valentino!