Spaghetti alla carbonara is one of those generous, forgiving dishes that doesn’t require too many ingredients, too much thought, or too much accuracy to be perfect and feel like a treat. In honor of Spring (and some very good Niman Ranch bacon I happened to have that happened to need finishing up), I banged some together with peas.
Although the flavor is completely different, anyone who is fond of split pea soup with ham or tortilla torcal or pasta with ham and peas (pasta e piselli) will appreciate the affinity that peas and pork have for each other and that’s why I like this combination. (Click here for another version of carbonara with butter and no peas). I played around with a Tyler Florence recipe for this.
It also reheats pretty well in the office microwave, which is part of my cooking criteria these days!
Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Peas (serves four)
1 Lb. dry spaghetti
½-1 Cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces thick cut bacon, sliced into chunks (a nice smoky bacon adds a lot of personality)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs (as fresh as possible)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano or other grating cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful chopped parsley (optional)
Prepare the pasta according to package directions, while you get the other ingredients ready.
About four minutes before the pasta is done, drop the peas in and stir.
Reserve ½ Cup pasta water before draining. You want to time it so that the eggs are ready to pour when the pasta is still really hot because the heat of the pasta is what is going to cook them.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet at medium heat until Add the bacon saute for about crisp, stirring frequently. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute to soften. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and cheese together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps.
Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss quickly to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta and take it off the heat to avoid scrambled eggs. Stir quickly with a big fork until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble. Thin out the sauce with a little at a time of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency.
Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Serve in warm bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and extra cheese.