real life test kitchen: carbonara with peas, mint, and bacon


Summer food is usually fresh and light, and for good reason — look at all of the beautiful produce out there this time of year. But sometimes I want something a little heartier, even as the weather is warming up. After a trip to our local farmers’ market last weekend, I came home with a bag full of delicate peas, still in their bright green pods. I could have made a salad or something equally virtuous, but no, I went in the opposite direction, adding them to a rich carbonara with bacon, parmesan, and mint. Bathing suit season be damned! This pasta, adapted from Jamie Oliver, is worth every calorie. –Lisa C. Click for the carbonara recipe!

Carbonara with peas, mint, and bacon
(Serves 4)
1lb farfalle
1 egg, preferably free-range or organic
100ml/3½ fl oz double cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 rashers of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, roughly sliced
3 handfuls of fresh podded or frozen peas
2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

First of all, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the farfalle, and cook according to the packet instructions. Whisk the egg in a bowl with the cream, salt and pepper. Put your pancetta or bacon into a second pan and cook until crispy and golden.

When the farfalle is nearly cooked, add the peas for the last minute and a half. This way they will burst in your mouth and be lovely and sweet. When cooked, drain in a colander, saving a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pancetta and stir in most of the mint, finely sliced – if the pan isn’t big enough, mix it all together in a large warmed bowl.

Now you need to add the egg and cream mix to the pasta. What’s important here is that you add it while the pasta is still hot. This way, the residual heat of the pasta will cook the eggs, but not so that they resemble scrambled eggs, as I’ve seen in some dodgy old restaurants on the motorway! The pasta will actually cook the egg enough to give you a silky smooth sauce. Toss together and loosen with a little of the reserved cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the Parmesan and the rest of the mint leaves, and serve as soon as possible.

Recipe via Jamie Oliver.

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Love peas! Will have to try it. :)