Roman restoration of classic Italian pasta
Carbonara pasta hardens quickly, so it’s important to have your ingredients prepared before you start cooking.
Pasta carbonara is the Romans’ answer to comfort food. It’s made up of three humble ingredients – eggs, cheese and pasta – which, with the elemental magic of heat and water, react to create a glistening bowl of pasta that refreshes and comforts skin. Crispy pancetta is a traditional ingredient in carbonara, and the fat from it adds salt and flavor to the dish. While less traditional, sweet peas add brightness and balance to the pork in this recipe.
This carbonara comes together quickly, so it’s important to prepare your ingredients before you start cooking. The most important ingredient is the egg and cheese mixture, which covers the hot pasta and creates the smooth sauce that binds the dish. Add the beaten eggs and cheese to the hot noodles away from direct heat, stirring constantly to coat the noodles completely. The heat from the pasta will help cook the eggs, and stirring will prevent the eggs from scrambling. It may seem complicated, but once you try it, you will see how easy and foolproof this method is.
Try using bucatini for pasta, which resembles thick spaghetti with a hole running through the middle, allowing the sauce to penetrate the pasta and infuse it with more flavor.
Linda Balslev is a Marin resident, cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer.
Carbonara pasta with sweet peas
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pound bucatini
6 ounces bacon or bacon cut into thick cubes
1 cup thawed frozen sweet peas
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed through a press
A quarter teaspoon of ground red pepper, or as desired
Beat the eggs and cheese in a bowl until combined. Sit aside.
Bring a large pot of water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until done. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until the fat melts, stirring to separate the pieces, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate covered with a paper towel.
Add the peas, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the drained pasta to the pan and cook briefly, stirring to coat the pasta.
Remove pan from heat. Quickly add the eggs and cheese, stirring constantly to cover the pasta and prevent the eggs from scrambling. Add some of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, to loosen the pasta to desired consistency. Return the bacon to the pan and stir again.
Serve immediately with additional cheese for sprinkling.