Weeknight Shorts: Springtime Carbonara

When fresh seasonal produce arrives on my grocery and farmers' market scene, I try to find ways to work it into as many meals as possible. That means that classic dishes get a splash of green now and then. And when the classic dish is carbonara - a pasta meats eggs, cheese, and bacon recipe - you can have dinner on the table in about 20 minutes!

This recipe calls for fresh asparagus and thawed frozen peas. However, if you happen to be lucky enough to have fresh peas available, simply add them to the skillet with the asparagus and bacon and continue with the recipe as otherwise indicated. I call for the thawed peas because not many fresh peas are available in my area this time of the year. But as is often the case, if you've got a fresh option, go for it!

Ideally, your egg yolk-cheese combination will result in a the velvety sauce you want, but it's not uncommon to end up with a small bit or two of scrambled egg in the mix. To help avoid this, keep the temperature low and your stirring constant once the egg mixture hits the pasta.

This dish is perfect served with a fresh green salad - think watercress, spinach, spring mix, etc. - and a bit of your favorite bread to soak up any of this lovely sauce. Oh, and a glass of chilled white wine too! Happy Spring!

Springtime Carbonara

  • 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
  • 4 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chopped asparagus
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated - divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups frozen green peas, thawed

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving about a cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Do not rinse the pasta!

While the pasta cooks, add the bacon to a large skillet over medium-low; cook until crisp, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate. Add the asparagus and garlic to the bacon drippings in the skillet; cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes until just beginning to brown at the edges. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus and garlic to the plate with the cooked bacon. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Whisk together the egg yolks, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese in a medium bowl.

Add the oil, drained pasta, ¼ cup of the reserved cooking liquid, and the egg mixture to the skillet; toss to coat. Heat the skillet over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Add the reserved bacon, asparagus, garlic, peas, and another ¼ cup of the reserved cooking liquid to the skillet; toss gently to combine. Cook until the pasta is heated through, about 1 more minute. If necessary, stir in more of the reserved cooking liquid to reach the desired consistency. Serve the pasta topped with the remaining grated Parmesan.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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