The Way to His Heart (Recipe Included)

6:00 pm on a weeknight and he steps out of the car, grabs his suit coat and his briefcase and tries to slough off the stresses of the job as he walks up the driveway to the peels of “Daddeeeeeees Hoooommmmme!” emanating from the dining room window.

As he opens the door he’s greeted by dressed, bathed, hair combed kids, a clean house, and wafts of something delicious coming from the kitchen. His wife is wearing a skirt and there isn’t even the slighted bit of kid goop smeared on her shirt. With every hair in place she kisses her man, takes his coat, and says “Come sit down, the roast just came out of the oven!”

Thursday night at your house?

Good. Mine neither. :o)


Everyone knows the saying, and in my limited experience I’d say it’s pretty darn true: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Or we could just cut to the chase and tell it like it is: the way to a man’s heart is through meat….especially bacon.

After a long day of the daily grind, I imagine there are few things more comforting to a breadwinner than to come home to a delicious meal that tastes like it’s been slaved over. That moment when you walk in the door with the stresses of the job and the world on your shoulders, and you are greeted by wafts of deliciousness.

Of course, for most moms with little ones, it’s really tough (okay…nearly impossible) to pull off a mid-week slam dunk in the decadent menu department. I so wish I could do that for my husband every day. The key, I’m learning, is to find those few crazy awesome recipes that are insanely easy to make and that your husband absolutely loves.

Enter Ruth Reichl, former restaurant critic for the New York Times.


I read Reichl’s memoir Garlic and Sapphires at the beginning of the summer, and I loved it. When I picked it up from the library I thought it would be a book mainly about the love of food, but that’s not the case. It’s primarily an intensely personal look at human nature, how people judge one another, and how people treat one another based on those judgements. It’s a lesson for all of us in how we treat others and how we so desperately need more love and virtue towards one another. However if you happen to love food, like I do, the way Reichl makes love to food with words is mind boggling. She’s incredibly talented with her pen.

In the book, Ruth writes that when she or her husband would come home from a particularly stressful day at work, their go-to menu was spaghetti carbonara. It set their world aright. She explains that traditional carbonara is actually made without any cream, and is one of the quickest soul-comforting meals one could possible make.

And so of course, I had to try the recipe.

Since my family is mostly gluten free, I use gluten free spaghetti (or spaghetti squash) and it works just fine. And Ruth Reichl is right – it is the fastest, easiest, and yet decadent weekday meal.

This bad boy is made with BACON, so do I even need to reassure you that a husband and sons will love this? I hope not.

Spaghetti Carbonara – from Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pound thickly sliced good-quality bacon (She prefers Nueske’s. I prefer “what’s on sale.”)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 large eggs
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese, plus extra for the table (LOTS extra if your last name starts with a “W”)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When it is boiling, throw the spaghetti in. Most dried spaghetti takes 9-10 minutes to cook, and you can make the sauce in that time.

Cut the bacon crosswise into pieces about 1/2 inch wide. Put the bacon in a skillet and cook for about 2 minutes, until the fat begins to render. Add the whole cloves of garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, until the edges of the bacon just begin to get crisp. Do not overcook : if they get too crispy they won’t meld with the pasta.

Meanwhile, break the eggs into your serving bowl, and beat with a fork. Add some grindings of pepper.

Remove the garlic from the bacon pan. If it looks like too much fat to you, discard some, but you’re going to toss the bacon with most of its fat into the pasta.

When it is cooked, drain the pasta and immediately throw it into the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs and turn them into a sauce. Add the bacon with its fat, toss again, and add cheese and serve.

I’m no food photographer, but here you go in all it’s no-filter iPhone glory:


The perfect companions to this decadent meal are a glass of cold wine and a simple salad. We’ve been eating Reichl’s carbonara with a crouton-less Caesar salad (Trader Joe’s Romano Caesar dressing – wicked good).

Busy mamas, there you have it: An absolutely mouth-watering, smile-inducing, they’ll-thank-you-all-evening meal that is on your table in under 15 minutes. (You can make your salad and pour the wine while the pasta water is boiling. Literally, whole thing including the table set in under 15).

The house might be a wreck and it might have been a doozy of a day for all of you, but you can still romance his heart with a little wine and a little bacon pasta. Sometimes it’s the little, easy things. Thank goodness.

Happy Friday y’all!

P.S. Add Garlic and Sapphires to your reading list. Ruth Reichl will not disappoint!

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