Spaghetti Carbonara with Zucchini and Chili Breadcrumbs

Before my daughter could even form words into a sentence, she’d order herself a plate of bacon in a restaurant just by waving her fork at someone else’s breakfast plate and moaning.

Today happens to be my daughter’s birthday AND National Zucchini Day, so this post seems super appropriate.

Over time I’ve adapted my recipe to include all shapes of pasta, depending on whatever I happen to have on hand. I’ve been known to use frozen baby peas in my Carbonara, but that isn’t a hard and fast rule either. When zucchini is growing in the garden during the summer, in it goes.

The buttery, toasted spicy breadcrumbs are a recent addition to my usual recipe. I love this crunchy garnish, a rustic addition I use with or sometimes without additional cheese, which is traditional in the regional cooking of Italy’s boot heel.

Spaghetti Carbonara with Zucchini and Chili Breadcrumbs

Serving Size: serves 4 - 6


  • 3 slices crusty bread such as ciabatta, cut into cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ pound sliced prosciutto, cut into strips
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into matchsticks or grated in box grater or food processor
  • Salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
  • Freshly chopped Italian parsley or fresh basil


  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the bread with1 tablespoon of the olive oil and chile flakes on a large baking sheet; toast in the oven until crunchy and golden in color, about 15 minutes. Cool and grind the bread in a food processor or blender to form coarse, chunky crumbs.
  2. Bring a large stockpot of water to boil for the spaghetti.
  3. Heat the remaining olive oil and the butter in a skillet over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the prosciutto and cook until the pieces begin to crisp. Stir in the shallot and cook until softened. Add the zucchini to the pan and cook a 2 – 3 minutes, stirring. Season to taste with salt and black pepper – you might not need much salt depending on how salty the prosciutto is, so taste first. Remove the pan from the heat and keep warm while you cook the spaghetti.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water then add the spaghetti, cooking until al dente.
  5. Scoop out and reserve 1/3 cup of the water before draining the spaghetti. Whisk the hot water into the beaten eggs a few tablespoons at a time to temper them. Stir the cheese into the eggs.
  6. Put the hot spaghetti in a large bowl and immediately pour the egg mixture over. Add the zucchini mixture to the bowl and toss everything together to coat the spaghetti. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parsley over the spaghetti and serve with additional Parmesan cheese.


  1. Zucchini in pasta carbonara sounds like a perfect combination! And of course it’s an excellent way to use up the piles upon piles of sumer zucchini… 🙂

  2. Great spin on a traditional Italian classic! Check out my recipe


  3. This was good. I cooked traditional with fetuccni. It neever occured to me to add bread crumbs to Alfredo and it was so much better I have tried it 2xs now and left the bread the second time as croutons as I am a crouton freak.

    • Jill, I’m glad you tried the breadcrumbs. I started substituting them for Parmiginao when I cooked for people with dairy issues, and now I just love them, especially with chile peppers.

Leave a Comment