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.