Pasta with Peas and Bacon

I had bacon in the fridge that needed to be used. I had frozen peas in the freezer leftover from samosas. I had, as always, pasta. I even had a few tablespoons of heavy cream leftover from a ganache that I’ll tell you about later. Have you ever been to a less-than-authentic Italian restaurant and ordered Spaghetti Carbonara? Well, for some reason these places tend to insist that Carbonara is a heavy cream-based sauce with bacon or ham and peas. Not always terrible, but disappointing when you know what good Carbonara tastes like. And for some reason, that dish became my inspiration for the evening. But I wanted to make it good.

Luckily I learned that Marcus Samulesson has a very similar recipe in his 2009 cookbook New American Table. I found an adaptation of it here and here. Since I didn’t just want to make fake carbonara, I omitted the eggs, opting instead to throw in a little pasta water to get a similar silken effect. I also upped the amount of bacon. And peas. And to totally switch things up I used big fat rigatoni. But you can use whatever pasta shape you like. The peas were a nice addition. It was nice to have something green to counteract the fatty bacon and toothsome, carby pasta.


Pasta with Peas and Bacon

Yield: 4 servings

1 pound pasta
6 ounces bacon, roughly chopped
½ yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups peas (defrosted if frozen)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
½ cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Strain and set aside.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until slightly crispy. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onions are softened. Add the peas and stir to combine. Pour in the cream and simmer for a few minutes (for an even creamier pasta feel free to add more cream). Add the reserved pasta and toss to coat. Add the grated cheese and some of the reserved pasta water and thoroughly mix. Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional Parmesan for grating.

12 thoughts on “Pasta with Peas and Bacon

  1. Delishhh

    Just for that reason i never order Carbonara at a restaurant 99% of the time i an not happy with it 🙂 Marcus always comes up with great recipes (he is a Swede :)) This recipe is fabulous – quick, easy and sounds delicious. You might have just made my dinner tonight.

  2. Charissa

    I think I would use turkey bacon, but it’s amazing how beautifully peas and bacon go together…I’m thinking this looks just lovely!

    • Katherine

      Oooh turkey bacon would be great. I once made a very successful carbonara with veg bacon, so anything is possible! Thanks 🙂

  3. Giulietta @ Alterkitchen

    Well, this is the reason why I eat only home-made carbonara… here in Italy it’s hard to find it in a restaurant menu, and I always fear that there will be cream in it!
    I make some alternative carbonaras, but the classic one for me is only onion-bacon-eggs-parmigiano-black pepper!
    Thanks for this alternative, though!

    • Katherine

      I completely agree! I would never make carbonara with anything else. I’m surprised to hear that you can’t get carbonara on a restaurant menu without cream. I remember the first time I had it was in Rome and they brought it to the table with the cracked egg on top and we had to mix it ourselves, but this was 10 years ago now!

      This really can’t be called an alternative except that some not-so-good restaurants think it is! And it’s good if you’re not expecting carbonara! 🙂

  4. meagan

    I found this recipe by googling “spaghetti with bacon”. Very good – I added asparagus and forgot the cheese – but an excellent dish!

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