Easy Pasta Carbonara with Peas Recipe

Twin Cities chef and culinary instructor Jason Ross guides you through whipping up his creamier twist on carbonara that you can easily make any night of the week
Easy Pasta Carbonara with Peas

Life is getting busier again. Kids are back in school. You may be back in the office—at least a few days a week—and a number of activities and sports teams have been ramping up. This is when you need an idea for an easy meal that you can make from scratch with easy-to-find ingredients and that won’t take much time—enter Pasta Carbonara with Peas.

Carbonara, from Rome, is one of those dishes that is so perfectly Italian. It uses just a few ingredients, handles them with care, and satisfies so easily and naturally, says Twin Cities chef and Saint Paul College Culinary Arts instructor Jason Ross, who created this recipe for Real Food. This version offers a few changes from the classic with bacon, a creamier sauce, and peas, which add freshness and bite, and make it more of a complete meal.

Easy Pasta Carbonara with Peas

Makes 4 Servings

3 slices of bacon or pancetta (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups frozen peas
1 pound spaghetti
3 eggs (see Cook’s Note)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup of heavy cream
1 pinch salt, plus more for pasta cooking water

  1. Set a large pot of salted water on high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. While the water heats, cut the bacon or pancetta into small dice. Cut while it is cold or even slightly frozen. It will stay firm and slice more easily and into nicer shaped dice.
  3. In a medium frying pan over medium heat, sauté the bacon in olive oil until it releases fat and begins to brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and turn off the heat; the heat from pan will defrost and warm peas. Set the pan aside next to the pasta pot.
  4. Add spaghetti to the now boiling salted water. Stir the noodles for the first minute or 2 to prevent them from sticking.
  5. While the noodles cook, in a medium bowl, use a fork to lightly whisk together the eggs, cheese and black pepper.
  6. Depending on the spaghetti you use (check package instructions), with tongs, pull out a noodle to check for doneness after about 10 minutes. Look for a noodle that is softened but not cooked so long that it has lost texture, become swollen or limp, and is without bite.
  7. When the noodles are cooked, turn off the heat and use the tongs to transfer the pasta to the pan with bacon and peas. Toss the pasta in the pan, fully coating it in the drippings from the bacon. Add the cream and salt, and turn the heat on to medium until the cream heats, thickens slightly and clings to the noodles, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to its lowest setting.
  8. Use a ladle to add ¼ cup of the warm pasta cooking water to the bowl of egg mixture and stir to loosen the eggs. Immediately add egg mixture to pasta and stir vigorously to keep the eggs from heating too quickly and scrambling. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and clings to the pasta. If sauce is too thick add a little more of the hot pasta cooking water. Serve immediately with extra cheese and black pepper, if desired.

Cook’s Note: Be careful when adding the eggs. Direct intense heat will cause creamy luscious sauce to become scrambled eggs. A little water from the pasta pot will diffuse that and temper the heat from the burner. The cream also gives the egg a little room to cook without overheating.

Nutrition info Pasta Carbonara with Peas (Per Serving) Calories 969; Fat 44g (Sat. 17g); Chol 203mg; Sodium 840mg; Carb 108g; Fiber 8g; Added Sugars 0g; Protein 34g

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.