What’s your signature dish?

Posted: August 22, 2015 in Food, Personal, Travel
Tags: , , , , ,

My husband tells our girls that they should have a signature dish, one that will “seal the deal.”  My signature dish originates in Italy, although I didn’t know about it until the mid-seventies when I spent almost a year backpacking around Europe between my junior and senior years in college.

The woman I was traveling with and I met two young Italian men with whom we went to dinner.  I have no idea what anyone else had, but I had spaghetti carbonara, a bacon, egg, and Parmesan dish with humble origins.  There are apparently more than one theories as to where the dish originated, all seem to include the premise that the ingredients were both inexpensive and easily available.  Although the evening in Italy ended very oddly, the taste of that dish remained a stellar memory.

When I returned to the US, I found a recipe in a small, wire-bound Time-Life Italian cookbook.  I’ve tweaked it a bit, tried Canadian bacon to lower the fat content, and decided that when making it, I might as well go all out and enjoy the wonderful taste, just not every day.  It’s a dish many people have never tasted but that no one I’ve made it for has ever not liked.  It may not have “sealed the deal” with my husband, but it’s definitely a family favorite, along with my homemade mac-and-cheese and homemade ravioli.  Hmmm.  Seems like an Italian theme in my mostly German family

Here’s the recipe.  But what I’d like to know is what’s your signature dish?  What does your family ask for over and over?  What do you make for company?  If you can, without violating copyright laws, I’d love it if you’d include the recipe in your comment or a link to the recipe you use.

Spaghetti Carbonara

1 lb. spaghetti or linguini
3 T. butter, mashed & softened
5-6 pieces of bacon, either diced and fried or fried and crumbled
3 eggs, beaten
½+ Parmesan or a Parm.-Romano combination
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta.  In the meantime, fry bacon and drain of all but a small amount of grease.  Combine beaten eggs and cheese.  Drain pasta and return to pot.  Add bacon, then egg-cheese mix.  Add salt and pepper, turn heat to low and stir until eggs are slightly set.  If you like, add more cheese. Serve immediately.

In the original recipe, I was told to heat the serving bowl, put the cooked spaghetti in the bowl, add everything else, toss, and the eggs would cook just enough.  I find that doesn’t really cook the eggs enough for me; hence, the cooking lightly in the pot.  I also found that even though it seems a non-stick pot would work wonderfully for this, a regular pot works best.  No idea why, but my whole family agrees.

  1. Mustang.Koji says:

    I also love Spaghetti Carbonara. My recipe adds 1/2 cup to the bacon to cook in; keeps it moist and not crunchy. I also use only about 1/2 gallon of water to boil pasta, then reserve about a cup of the starchy water. I add about 1/2 cup of that reserved water in your three eggs and cheese (plus one yolk). Using that 1/2 cup of water helps keep the pasta moist and not clump up…
    While my true “signature” dishes are kinda Asian, my general “everybody likes the stuff” is homemade meatballs and spaghetti. 🙂 https://p47koji.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/homemade-meatballs-and-spaghetti-sauce/

  2. atureaud says:

    This looks like an amazing recipe 👍
    Thank you for sharing, I will try it…
    Carbonara is my favorite pasta too 😍

  3. ledrakenoir says:

    Italian food, I love it – in my young danish years I always joke about I have to be married to an italian girl – my best friend did and live in the northern Italy for many years – I ended up with a french girl and do the cocking, because I love to… 😀

    • I think if I had to pick just one cuisine to always eat, it would be Italian. Nice for your wife that you love to cook. What’s your signature dish?


      • ledrakenoir says:

        You are right, the best is “to shop around” – and pick up that we find delicious… 🙂

        One of the things that our friends “begging for” when they visit us – dried out large prawns (not fried but dehumidified on a dry hot pan) then added cheese – most often blue cheese, or cheese with a high solids – such as Gouda or Emmenthal cheese – when the cheese is melted with the prawns, then add spices – pepper, oregano, basil and sun-dried tomatoes – accessories either a large baked potato or baguette with mixed salad – don’t forget a glas of wine besides… 🙂

      • Sounds delicious, especially that glass of wine. 😉 So you just put the prawns on a dry hot pan and cook them until they’re done?

      • ledrakenoir says:

        Cooked peeled prawns are too wet for the cheese – the liquid will mix with the melted cheese if they are not dried in this way – but they shouldn’t be fried only dried and the liquid is poured from the pan – then add the cheese on the warm pan.

      • OK. You didn’t mention in your first comment that the prawns were cooked prawns, so I was trying to figure out how they got cooked. I get it now. Yum!

  4. ksbeth says:

    one of my favs, and now your post has made me crave it again )

  5. Dear Janet,

    You’ve partaken of my signature dish. 😉 I’ll try to break it down but I never measure. Pretty basic.

    1 to 2 cups crushed pecans, seasoned with salt and pepper. I can’t have garlic so I use a spice called asafoetida https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asafoetida

    2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs.

    Fry/Saute in toasted sesame oil.

    Great for those of us who are gluten free. I have to fight Jan for this one. He’s not gluten free but he says this is one of his favorite dishes.

    (I do a mean stir fry, too.)

    Bon apetit.


  6. This sounds delicious. I don’t think I ever had a signature dish unless you count a pretty good pan of lasagna. Now that I have an adult daughter and SIL who are both gourmet cooks, there are no requests for my cooking because they are both better cooks than I ever was. 🙂

  7. I cook this with ham – love this meal

  8. These all sound so good! And for something a bit different – African Peanut Chicken. (I don’t remember where I came across this, but it’s quick, easy, and everybody likes it.) Don’t take the quantities too seriously – but this will serve four adults: Slice half an onion and cut up one or two peppers – hot peppers if you can eat them. Cut 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts into chunks and brown the chicken, onion, and peppers in about a teaspoon of oil. Add a cup of chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce, 1/4 cup of red wine (aka “a good slosh”), and either two or three sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in about two heaping tablespoons of peanut butter. Serve over rice.

  9. I LOVE spaghetti carbonara. Always use a little cream though — and look, maybe not needed? Can’t wait to try. Cheers —

  10. If there’s bacon in it, I love it. haha
    Really, I do like Spagetti Carbonara. I don’t make it with butter. I use olive oil.
    I’ll have to give yours a try. Thanks for the recipe. 😎

  11. Su Leslie says:

    I think my son would say that spaghetti carbonara is his signature dish too. I find it too rich (and I’m not a fan of pasta) so it gets cooked a lot when I’m not home for dinner.

    • Su, it’s fun to see how many people around the world like this dish when so many people I know have never heard of it. When I was little and my dad had to work late, we often had macaroni and cheese or fish sticks, both things he disliked.


  12. […] men. I think they might have been expecting more from the encounter than they got, but I got spaghetti carbonara for dinner and my life was never the same. 🙂 (The highlighted link will give you more of the […]