Spaghetti Carbonara à la St. Julians Bay (Malta)

St Julians Bay - Malta
The view from one of our favorite restaurants in St Julians Bay (Malta), where I, almost always, ordered Spaghetti Carbonara.

According to food lore, Spaghetti Carbonara is a relatively new addition to Italian cooking.. In fact, one of the theories is that Spaghetti Carbonara came about due to food shortages during World War II.  Another theory is that coal miners may have invented the dish.  (I’m not buying that theory.) Or… that the black specs of freshly ground black pepper – and you should add a good amount of pepper – resemble coal dust lying atop a bed of spaghetti mixed with eggs and cheese.  Actually, who cares where or why the recipe originated?  We love it because it’s easy to make and delicious!

Like spaghetti and meatballs, there’s an unlimited number of ways to prepare Spaghetti Carbonara.  While living in Malta I found a recipe very much like the ‘Popeye’s Spaghetti Carbonara’ served at our favorite restaurant, to which I added peas simply because that’s how it was served.  WHAT??… you’re probably thinking.  Yup – peas. And now I have to tell you how the making of the movie Popeye in the small island country of Malta led to a chef naming his version of Spaghetti Carbonara “Popeye’s.

If you’re not familiar with the character called Popeye, you may not know he always eats a can of spinach (yuck..) to give him strength.  It seems the chef preferred adding peas, as opposed to Popeye’s spinach, to the Spaghetti Carbonara dish named Popeye’s, and I think he made the right call.  Enjoy!!

Spaghetti Carbonara a la St. Julian's Bay, Malta
Popeye Village (Anchor Bay, Malta) for which ‘Popeye’s Spaghetti Carbonara’ was named.

small red heart

INGREDIENTS             Serves 4 – 5, depending upon your appetite         ; o )

  • ¾ cup cut-up bacon or pancetta  (about 4 ounces)     ++ Use kitchen shears!
  • ¾ package spaghetti  (12 ounces)   ++  I used ‘rigati’ – it has ridges to hold the sauce.
  •  2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion    ++  Optional
  • 2 whole eggs – and – 2 egg YOLKS       ++  Take eggs out early – OR – place eggs in a bowl with very warm water.
  • 2/3 cup grated good-quality Parmesan cheese      ++  Or Romano …….. Or a combination of both.
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup WARMED heavy (whipping) cream    ++  Optional – but I recommend using it!!
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas   ++  Optional

++  Reserve some of the pasta water.


Eggs should be room temperature, so either take them out earlier – or place them in small bowl with very hot water.

Following the directions on the box, cook 12 ounces (3/4 of a 16 oz. package) al dente, which means the pasta shouldn’t be too soft.  Add 2 tsp. salt to the cooking water.

While waiting for the water to boil and the pasta to cook,  cut up the bacon (or pancetta). If using bacon, cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. If using pancetta , it should be lightly brown but not crisp. Place cooked bacon or pancetta on a paper towel lined plate.  Drain skillet of bacon grease and wipe skillet with paper towel.

Add 1 Tbs. olive oil to skillet. Cook 1/3 cup chopped onion over medium heat until cooked through and just beginning to brown.  Put onions on the plate with the bacon.

Now it’s time to make the sauce.  In a medium bowl whisk together 2 whole eggs – and 2 egg YOLKS, 2/3 cup grated good-quality Parmesan cheese, ½ tsp. salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.   ++ If you chose to include the 1/2 cup WARMED heavy (whipping) cream, whisk that in now.   Set bowl aside.

Microwave 1/3 cup peas with a small amount of water (about 3 Tbs.) and cook for 3 minutes.

When spaghetti is ready, drain it – reserving some of the pasta water.  Place drained spaghetti back in the pot. Replace pot on turned off burner.  Add onions, bacon and peas. Pour on the egg & cheese mixture and stir to combine.

Think the sauce is too thick?  Add a bit of the reserved pasta water.

After you’ve plated your spaghetti, remember to add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper!  And there you go – dinner is served!

As you can see below, the sauce should be creamy and stick to the pasta.  Unlike Spaghetti Alfredo, the pasta will not be swimming in sauce.

Spaghetti Carbonara a la St Julians Bay (Malta)
Spaghetti Carbonara a la St Julians Bay (Malta)


Rotini with Creamy Red Sauce, Italian Sausage and Chicken

++ The casserole in the photo was prepared using approximately 1/2 of my Rotini with Creamy Red Sauce, Italian Sausage and Chicken.

Rotini with Creamy Red Sauce, Italian Sausage and Chicken was inspired by  ” jjbegonia’s Weeknight Chicken Riggies”. 

++ Update – December 2013

My sons and their families spent the weekend of December 15th  here at my farmhouse, and we celebrated our ‘Roy Christmas’.  We had so much fun being together – and this year there’s a new baby in the family!!   (Our ‘Roy Christmas’ is usually two weeks before Christmas Day because one of my sons lives several states away.)  I served Rotini with Creamy Red Sauce, Italian Sausage and Chicken, as well as Grammy Brouillette’s French Canadian Meat Pies – of course! 

I’ve made three changes to the Rotini recipe simply because, like most people who love to cook, I really enjoy fiddling with recipes.   So – now you have two ways to prepare this dish !

1.  I took the casings off the Italian sausage and cooked the loose sausage-meat.

2.  Instead of three boneless chicken breasts – I used one (1 1/2 lb.) package of chicken breast tenders, cut into 1″ pieces.

3.  I added 1 (small) box of cherry tomatoes, cut in half.   

This is a great pasta dish to make for guests because it’s yummy & it makes a lot !  And – the best part – you can prepare ahead and easily keep it warm in the oven, which gives you time to enjoy yourself.

I add red wine to my sauce. BUT, if you skip the red wine and add a bit of vodka, you have a delicious “Vodka Sauce”. Believe me, you won’t taste the vodka –  it just gives the sauce another layer of flavor.  Whether you add red wine or vodka, the alcohol content completely disappears during cooking, so there’s no concern about serving this dish to nondrinkers or children.

+ Recipe feeds approximately 6 – 7 people

+ To make less – prepare half the recipe, which is shown in the photo at the top of the page.

+ I kept the Rotini with Creamy Red Sauce, Italian Sausage and Chicken warm and also served it from one of those ‘portable ovens’. I highly recommend acquiring one if you entertain often. (They’re pretty inexpensive !!)

This isn’t a great photo – there was a lot going on, so I didn’t have to time to ‘light the shot’.  Rotini with Italian Sausage and Chicken - My Yellow

Ingredients and Method

  • 1 to 1 /14 boxes — (16 oz.) Rotini, cooked al dente      ++ I.E. – the center of the pasta should be chewy… not soft.)   ++ There’s plenty of sauce if you chose to cook 1 1/4 boxes.)
  • 2 packages (14 oz) Italian sausage — 1 HOT  &  SWEET – cut into chunks.   (Or – take the meat out of the casings and cook it loose.)
  •  olive oil – you’ll need several tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts – cut into bite-sized chunks.    OR 1 package ( 1 1/2 lbs.) chicken breasts tenders.
  • 1 large green pepper, roughly chopped or sliced
  • 1 large red pepper, roughly chopped or sliced
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped or sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • 2 jars (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce   (I like ‘Bertolli Tomato & Basil’.)
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine …..  OR  ….. 1/4 vodka   Feel free to add more wine or vodka ‘to taste’
  • OPTIONAL – 1 (small) box of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 to 1 cup HEAVY cream    (Light cream works just as well….)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped   ++ Add as much, or as little, basil as you like!
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese – to sprinkle on top


Cut sausage into chunks (or, take meat out of the sausage casings).    Set aside.   Cut 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1″ pieces – set aside.

 Rotini with Creamy Red Sauce and Italian Sausage and Chicken

Chop (or slice) 1 large red pepper, 1 large green pepper & 1 large onion.   Set aside.   Mince 3 cloves garlic – set aside.

Rotini with Italian Sausage and Chicken.jpg

Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a large skillet. Brown sausage pieces (or loose sausage meat). ++  The sausage does NOT need to be fully cooked. It’s going to cook more in the sauce. Place the browned sausage into a large saucepan or stockpot.

Rotini with Italian Sausage and Chicken.jpg

Remove most of the fat left in the frying pan – but not all.

Deglaze the skillet with 1/2 cup water.  Add the chicken chunks and simmer (uncovered) for 4 – 5 minutes – stirring often – until chicken is no longer pink. ++ Don’t overcook chicken – you don’t want tough chicken!   Place cooked chicken (and any juices) in the stockpot already containing the cooked sausage.

Now add a few tablespoons olive oil to your frying pan. Cook the chopped (or sliced) pepper and onions until they are crisp tender.  Add 3 cloves minced garlic and cook another minute or so.

Place the cooked onions, peppers and garlic in the stockpot containing the cooked sausage and chicken.

Rotini with Italian Sausage and Chicken - for a crowd 019

Add to the stockpot;   2 jars (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce, 1 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. sugar, 1/2 cup red wine ( OR  ….. 1/4 cup vodka ) and 1/3 – 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  (Optional – 1 (small) box cherry tomatoes, cut in half.)  

Simmer – uncovered – for 1/2 hour, stirring often so the sauce doesn’t stick.     ++ While sauce is simmering – cook Rotini according to package directions.

 Red Sauce - Rotini with Italian Sausage and Chicken.jpg

After simmering sauce gently for a half hour, add 3/4 – 1 cup cream. (Any type of cream will do !) Simmer on low for 1 – 2 minutes. ++ Be sure to ‘simmer’ – you don’t want to curdle the cream!   Add 2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil. ++ I like to add the basil at the last minute so you really get all the fabulous fresh basil flavor, which seems to ‘get lost’ if it’s cooked too long.

Rotini with Italian Sausage and Chicken.jpg

 Rotini with Creamy Red Sauce and Italian Sausage and Chicken

+ These two photos show only HALF the recipe

Place the cooked and drained Rotini into a large serving bowl or casserole.

Add the creamy red sauce – mix until well-blended. Sprinkle on 1/3 – 1/2  freshly grated Parmesan cheese – and serve.

Rotini with Creamy Red Sauce with Italian Sausage and ChickenOr………you can bake your Rotini with Creamy Red Sauce, uncovered, at 350F for 15 – 20 minutes, which actually intensifies the flavor.

If you want to keep your Rotini with Creamy Red Sauce warm for a while – just lower the heat to 225F & cover the casserole with aluminum foil.        Andiamo a mangiare !

Gemelli Pasta Bake with Parmesan & Mozzarella and Rustic Italian Bread

++ For my recipe for Rustic Italian Bread – please follow this link –

Rustic Italian Bread -

A meal featuring saucy/cheesy baked pasta with a warm slice of homemade rustic Italian bread is always a sure winner. This recipe is a snap to make and it can be put together ahead of time – which is always nice, especially when you’re having guests.

In my case, I was at our house in the Pocono Mountains, with plans to leave the next day, when I decided that I’d rather cook up something with whatever was in the refrigerator rather drag it all home. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I love “digging in the fridge” and making “what’s for dinner” using whatever I find. I found a bit of left-over spaghetti sauce that I’d made following ChgoJohn’s recipe for basic meat sauce. (It makes quite a bit, so I’d frozen some). I also found some left-over red and green pepper, an onion, some left-over bottled spaghetti sauce – and – digging further, I found a box of  pasta in the cupboard. We had run out of Parmesan, so I ran to the store – while there, I also purchased a bag of shredded Mozzarella.

I often bring my bread machine to the Pocono house, and my grandchildren love both making – and eating – homemade bread. So I decided I’d make – for the very first time – an Italian bread using the bread machine for the dough and then baking the bread in the oven. I’d never made Italian bread before and I was so happy with the results.  In fact, the bread looked so beautiful it almost looked fake!

And – I gotta say – the pasta turned out yummy, though I only ate a small bit ’cause I wanted to freeze both the bread and the pasta for my son and his family when they returned to the Pocono house. And were they ever glad because on their next trip they brought along a bunch of nieces and nephew. From what I was told, the pasta – and especially the bread – were big hits!

Pocono House - view from LodgeView from the fabulous new lodge built by the ‘association’ where we have our home in the Pocono Mountains. I LOVE sitting here – you can bring something to eat, and, better yet… something to drink!   So very peaceful….

gemelli pasta - from frites and fries.comGemelli (pasta), which comes from the Italian word for twin, resembles two strands of pasta twisted together. These small pasta twists keep their shape and hold the flavor of sauce beautifully while retaining a firm “al dente” texture – which makes Gemelli perfect for a baked pasta dish.     (Photo courtesy of Frites and

Ingredients for Gemelli Pasta Bake with Parmesan & Mozzarella

Oven at 350 F

Cook  . . .  covered – for 30 minutes.   Uncover….cook for another 15 minutes

++ If the pasta has been refrigerated, it’ll take a bit longer to cook. (Here’s what I do to tell if it’s hot enough – I put a CLEAN finger in the middle – if it’s hot in the middle, then it’s ready!)

  • olive oil – about 2 Tbs.
  • 1/2 to 3/4 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 (24 oz) jars of spaghetti sauce    (I like Bertolli “Tomato & Garlic”.)
  • ++ If you have some left-over sauce with meatballs or sausage, chop up the meatballs/sausage and add to the pasta. Or – you could add some left-over chicken or ground beef.
  •  3 – 4 cups UNCOOKED Gemelli pasta, cooked according to package directions for al dente.
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese PLUS 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top       (I highly recommend you buy freshly grated Parmesan – it just tastes so much better!)
  • 1 bag shredded Mozzarella – DIVIDED
  • salt & pepper to taste

Follow the package instructions for cooking Gemelli pasta al dente. Once cooked, drain  in a colander & rinse to prevent further cooking.  While your pasta is cooking, heat some oil olive in a large skillet, and cook the green pepper, red pepper and onion just until they’re just “crisp tender”. If adding left-over sauce with meatballs etc. – add it now. If adding raw ground beef or chicken, remove the veggies and continue cooking until no longer pink. Reintroduce the veggies and add sauce. Mix well.

Gemelli Pasta Bake - Sauce

Pour your sauce into a big bowl. Add the pasta, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and 1/2 the bag of shredded Mozzarella & combine.

Gemelli Pasta and Sauce

Pour into a large casserole dish or a 13′ x 9″ pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan and the rest of the bag of shredded Mozzarella.

Gemelli Pasta Bake - My Yellow

Bake at 350 F – covered – for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 15 minutes – or until heated through.

If the pasta has been refrigerated, remove it from fridge about 20 minutes before cooking. – it might still take a bit longer go heat up – say 40 minutes covered   &   15 more uncovered.    Enjoy !

Gemelli Pasta Bake -

Penne Mozzarella Bake

Hi There – well, here’s another recipe from the woman who’s in the running for The World’s Worst Procrastinator! I’ve recently been thinking, “Maybe I’ll put these recipes out there – and no one’s gonna ever see them”. Then, I noticed that almost 100 people have “checked out” my little recipe blog so far….even though I have, at this point, so few recipes. If that’s not a motivating factor, then I don’t know what is!!  I’m sending out a great, big THANKS to my first 100 visitors! And I promise, there’ll be lots and lots of delicious recipes “comin’ at ya” from My Yellow Farmhouse!

I made up this recipe recently – and – I gotta say – it’s damn good!! Perhaps it’s the additional depth of flavor due to adding some red wine, and simmering everything together for a bit before assembling and baking this Penne Mozzarella Bake.

Oven at 350 F     Serves 6

  • smaller-sized Penne (macaroni) – measure 3 cups, then cook  “al dente”
  • 1 lb. ground beef – 80% lean
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper – or mixture of red & green
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt with parsley
  • black pepper to taste – about 1/4 tsp.
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups prepared spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan – divided in two1/4 cup portions
  • 7 oz. container of sliced fresh mozzarella, drained

In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook ground beef until no longer pink. Remove beef from skillet, taking out most of the fat, but not all. Add the chopped onion and pepper to the skillet; cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes. Return beef to skillet. Simmer with the chopped onions and peppers for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now add spaghetti sauce, spices and red wine.  Lower heat, cover skillet, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If you don’t have a big lid, cover with foil.)

Add the cooked Penne to the simmered spaghetti sauce mixture. (If there’s not enough room in the skillet, mix Penne and sauce mixture in a large bowl.)

Place half the Penne/sauce mixture in a 2-quart casserole. Then, in a single layer, place the drained mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Cover this layer with the rest of the Penne/sauce mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 F – uncovered – for 30 minutes. Pour yourself a nice glass of the red wine left-over from making the sauce – and ENJOY!!