In times past in poor regions like Molise, when meat was scarce, eggs were an available and affordable source of protein. A dish of pasta dressed with eggs combined the nutrients of two staple foods for a meal that was naturally nutritious and sustaining. I love these pastas sauced with eggs, and tasty versions can be found all over Italy, especially in Abruzzo, Molise, and Lazio (Rome), where the most famous dish of this type, spaghetti allla carbonara, originated. This Molisano version is particularly appealing, with cavatelli, scrambled eggs, and bacon, and with grated Fontina Val d’Aosta tossed in at the end—a bit out of region, but absolutely delicious here. In Molise they would use grated pecorino, of course, and it is lovely that way, too.
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta pot
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 8 ounces slab or thick-cut bacon, cut in ½-inch pieces
- 5 large eggs
- 1 batch (1½ pounds), Fresh Cavatelli, or 1 pound dried pasta
- 2 cups shredded Fontina Val d’Aosta
You will need a large pasta-cooking pot; a heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet or sauté pan, 12-inch diameter or larger.
Fill the large pot with salted water (at least 6 quarts water with 1 tablespoon salt), and heat to a boil. Pour the olive oil into the skillet, and set it over medium-high heat. Drop in the butter, let it melt, then scatter in the bacon pieces. Cook the bacon, stirring and tossing the pieces, for 5 minutes or so, until they’re crisp and caramelized. (If the bacon rendered lots of fat, you can pour off half the fat in the pan.)
Beat the eggs and ¼ teaspoon salt in a bowl until well blended. When the water is at a rolling boil, drop in the cavatelli, stir, and return the water to a boil. Cook the cavatelli 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente, lift them from the pot, drain briefly, and spill them into the skillet.
Over medium heat, toss the cavatelli with the bacon pieces, coating the pasta with the oil, butter, and bacon fat, too. Pour the beaten eggs all over the pasta, stirring and tumbling them together; keep scraping the coagulating egg from the sides and bottom of the pan, and incorporate it in with the wet eggs.
Cook for a minute or two, just until all the egg is lightly cooked and custardy and evenly scrambled into the cavatelli. Turn off the heat, scatter the shredded fontina over the eggs and pasta, and toss thoroughly to blend in the cheese as it melts. Serve immediately.