Recipe: Spaghetti with Asparagus, Scallions, and Bacon

A plate of Spaghetti Carbonara can be comforting, but the bacon-and-egg sauce may be a bit rich for a weeknight dinner or when you want lighter fare as the weather heats up. This interpretation by cookbook author and cooking teacher Molly Stevens, which appeared in Real Food, lightens and brightens things up by eliminating the raw egg, cutting back on the bacon, skipping the cream, and adding plenty of fresh asparagus and scallions. It offers just the right amount of smoky bacon flavor to recall the original and satisfy any appetite, notes Stevens, and a hint of lemon zest and a handful of fresh parsley complete the picture. Serve with a simple tossed salad and a loaf of garlic bread to round out the meal.

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Scallions, and Bacon

Serves 4

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces (scant 1 cup)
¼ c. dry white wine
1¼ lbs. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces
1 lb. spaghetti
½ c. freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until almost crisp, about 7 minutes. Add scallions (leaving bacon and fat in pan), and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and beginning to brown in spots, about 4 more minutes. Add white wine and bring to a boil, scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any caramelized bits. Simmer for 1 minute, then remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

When water boils, drop in asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to a colander. Rinse with cold water and set aside to drain.

Return water in pot to a rapid boil and add pasta. Boil until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving about ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Heat bacon and wine mixture over medium-high heat. Add drained pasta, asparagus, and a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking water. Toss to combine. If pasta seems dry, add a bit more pasta cooking water. Add parsley, lemon zest, cheese, and a generous amount of black pepper, and toss well. Season to taste with salt and more pepper. Serve in warm pasta bowls, topping each with additional freshly ground black pepper and Parmesan, as desired.

Nutrition info (per serving): CALORIES 732 (183 from fat); FAT 20g (sat. 7g); CHOL 26mg; SODIUM 932mg; CARB 105g; FIBER 8g; PROTEIN 29g

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.