Bella Sun Luci Sun-Dried Tomato Carbonara – 2nd Runner Up

October 2016 Mooney Farms/Bella Sun Luci Recipe Contest Honorable Mention Blog, Chef Richie Says!

Hello fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Richie here, at your culinary service.

The second recipe in this series is…drum roll please…Sun Dried Tomato Carbonara, submitted by Leah Canino. Congratulations Chef Leah! Very nice work!

This month I’m honorably mentioning Chef Leah’s sun dried tomato twist on one of my favorite classics, La Pasta alla Carbonara. Actually, classically speaking…Chef Richie Says wink-wink…it’s RIGATONI alla Carbonara. It’s a Roman dish, originally. Several Romans have told me this.

In 2014 when I was in Rome, the night before I saw Pope Francisco give his Sunday benediction at the Vaticano, I had Rigatoni alla Carbona at an awesome restaurant called Al Bacano, near Piazza di Spagna. It was 11:00 at night, I was seated outside, there were people everywhere and it was one of the ten best, most memorable meals of my life. I sat there for three hours, and in addition to the people watching, the carbonara was the highlight. Another thing that makes La Carbonara Roman is the use of pecorino Romano cheese…the Roman version of parmesan, which is sharper and saltier. Chef Richie says: GO TO AL BACANO THE FIRST CHANCE YOU GET!!! And get the Roman Artichokes with Mint.  And the fresh anchovies fried in a breading they put orange zest into. SO GOOD.

Oh…carbonara is called carbonara because a carbonaro is a coal mine worker (coal is carbon in Italian) and this pasta was a hearty macho man meal after a hard day’s work. Basically it’s pasta with bacon, eggs and cheese…rich and stick-to-your-ribs.

Chef Leah’s more Americanized version calls for Parmesan and peas. No peas have ever touched a carbonara in the history of Italy, but it’s ok…I actually like it…and Chef Leah used bacon and not pancetta (bacon is smoked, but pancetta is simply cured…that’s the difference…they both come from pork belly)…and that’s ok too. But there’s a reason Leah’s dish merits honorable mention, beyond me getting to go on and on about Rome, and that reason is, it was YUMMY. La Pasta Carbonara is one of those things that’s a whole greater than the sum of its parts…like a Caesar salad, or lasagna, or a cheeseburger. And it’s simple. And it’s easy to make. The addition of sun dried tomatoes worked BETTER because of the peas. It’s that green-white-red Italian thing…like their flag. So whenever you get a chance, remember Chef Leah and her most honorable use of the Italian green-white-red culinary paradigm. And…remember the sun dried tomatoes!

Bella Sun Luci Sun-Dried Tomato Carbonara


  • 8.5oz Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves (in Extra Virgil Olive Oil with Italian Herbs)
  • 8 oz. sweet peas
  • 8oz cooked chopped bacon
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 1 TSP minced garlic
  • 8oz pasta (angel hair or your choice)
  • Sauté all ingredients at medium-low temp for 15 min to 20min. Pour over the angel hair or your favorite pasta and garnish with Parmesan. Serves 4.

Now get cookin’, happy cookin’ and buon appetito!


Chef Richie

Chef Richie

About Chef Richie

As corporate chef for Bella Sun Luci, Richard "Chef Richie" Hirshen, whose culinary career spans more than 30 years, plays an instrumental role in product development, recipe creation, and cooking demonstrations.

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