What To Serve With Carbonara: 13 Delicious Sides

April 4, 2022
what to serve with carbonara

Trying to find the tastiest, most satisfying ideas for what to serve with carbonara? If so, I’ve got you covered! 

Carbonara is one of the most popular Italian dishes that’s served right across the globe, and it’s no surprise that so many people love this classic dish. Though it’s made with just a handful of staple ingredients including eggs, parmesan, and pancetta, it’s a real treat and perfect for either a family meal or a special occasion. 

Sometimes though, it can be tricky to think of the right side dishes for this rich meal. You need to strike a balance so your accompaniments don’t overshadow the main meal, but still add something interesting to the dinner table. 

From classic, Italian inspired options to some more creative and trendy choices, there’s plenty here to inspire you. Let’s take a look… 

the best side dishes for carbonara

1. Cheesy tomato garlic bread

Sometimes, a double serving of carbohydrates is exactly what you need! 

These cheesy tomato garlic breads are easy to make with store cupboard ingredients, and they’re perfect for scooping up that silky pasta sauce. 

I like to add a sprinkle of dried red chilli flakes to give them a bit of a kick, but you can leave these out if you’re looking for something that’s a little more child friendly, or if you just prefer to keep things simple. 

slimming world garlic bread

2. Steamed greens

Make sure that everyone is getting their 5-a-day by serving a side of steamed green veggies with your carbonara. 

You could choose peas, courgette, cabbage, or any other vegetable that you enjoy or that you need to use up. 

Add a grind of fresh black pepper, and you’re ready to go. Remember that when it comes to cooking green vegetables, less is often more. Resist the temptation to overcook, and retain that satisfying crunch. 

steamed greens

3. Puntarelle salad with anchovies and capers 

Puntarelle is a bitter green leaf that’s popular in Italian cooking, and its punchy flavour lends itself really well to being the base of a salad that will be a real talking point at your dinner table. 

This puntarelle salad with anchovies and capers is quick to prepare, and can be served as a start or as a side dish. 

Fresh anchovies are always delicious, but if it’s easier, you can substitute with their tinned counterparts.

I always like to have a few tins in my pantry, as they add a deeply unami flavour to lots of different dishes and can prove to be really handy on those weeknights when you’re not quite sure what to cook! 

italian salad

4. Courgette fries 

Making up a batch of courgette fries is an excellent way to add more veggies to your meal, but keeping fussy eaters happy! 

Simply cut your courgettes into chips, and coat with a mix of flour and parmesan cheese. Deep fry until golden, and drain on some kitchen paper. 

If you have an air fryer, you can make tasty courgette fries without any messy deep frying. You could also bake them in the oven if you want to keep things a little lighter. 

courgette fries

5. Tenderstem broccoli 

Tenderstem broccoli is readily available in most supermarkets and greengrocers, but it always looks sophisticated and is suitable for the fanciest of dinner parties! 

Steam or boil, and serve with sea salt and black pepper, and a knob of fresh butter. 

Broccoli is high in nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. 

purple sprouting brocolli

6. Grilled aubergine salad 

This grilled aubergine salad recipe combines aubergines, crushed garlic, red wine vinegar, and mixed herbs, and it’s proof that sometimes you really do just need a small handful of ingredients to make something really special. 

Aubergine is also a nutritional powerhouse, and is rich in a wide variety of antioxidants. 

grilled aubergine salad

7. Grissini (Italian breadsticks) 

Italian breadsticks are always a great choice for what to serve with carbonara, or for that matter, any other pasta dish that you might be planning! 

Put them in the middle of the table, and allow everyone to get stuck in over conversation whilst you prepare the main course. 

I like using this grissini recipe, and if I have enough time, I experiment with making different shapes. It’s the kind of activity that little ones will love getting involved with too! 

italian breadsticks

8. Amalfi style prawns

If you’re looking for a light and summery option as a side dish for carbonara, I highly recommend trying these Amalfi style prawns

The vibrant lemon and mint flavours make them an ideal choice for a starter too, and they take just 5 minutes to cook. 

grilled prawns

9. Chilli prawn bruschetta 

If you do a lot of Italian cooking, bruschetta is likely to be something that you return to time and time again. It’s easy to prepare, yet can be impressive enough for a dinner party, and it’s a wonderful way to showcase seasonal and fresh ingredients. 

Why not shake things up a little and try this chilli prawn and bruschetta recipe

If you’re a lover of fresh seafood, it might just turn out to be one of your new favourites! 

prawn bruschetta

10. Italian stuffed tomatoes 

Stuffed tomatoes are a fabulous choice as a side dish, and the beauty is that you can create your own recipe using whatever you might have in your fridge and kitchen cupboards that might need using up. 

Popular filling choices include rice, onion, kale, spinach, cheese, and a blend of your favourite fresh herbs. 

The quality of the tomatoes can make a real difference here, so try to keep this option for when you can find beautiful in-season tomatoes in your area. If you’ve grown them yourself in a greenhouse, even better! 

stuffed tomatoes

11. Antipasti plate 

When you choose an antipasti plate for what to serve with carbonara, you can make sure that you have something for everyone. 

Add nibbles such as olives, sun-dried tomatoes, breadsticks, deli meats, and cheeses to a platter in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves. 

Eating like this is a really sociable way to enjoy food, and it’s also completely stress free. 


12. Stuffed courgette flowers 

You’ve probably eaten courgettes before, but have you ever made use of the flowers? 

They have a delicate flavour and though they can be enjoyed raw, they lend themselves well to being stuffed with cheese and then fried in a light batter. 

courgette flowers

13. Italian pinwheels 

I always try to keep some puff pastry in my freezer, so I can make my own Italian pinwheels to accompany pasta dishes! 

Simply roll out flat, and spread with your chosen fillings. Tomato, cheese, and fresh herbs is always a good combination, then roll, slice into bitesized pieces, and bake in the oven until golden. 

If you’re expecting guests, you could have these ready and waiting for their arrival, and serve with a glass of wine or a cocktail. 

italian pinwheel

Whether you want something quick and easy that you can whip up without any fuss after a long day at the office, or you’re planning a special meal and you want to take the time to try something new and impressive, there’s something here for every occasion. 

What’s your favourite choice for what to serve with carbonara? 

what to serve with carbonara pin

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