Carbonara: The Roman answer to bacon and eggs |

Carbonara: The Roman answer to bacon and eggs

Many home cooks are intimidated by preparing a carbonara, but with a little practice it can be easy to master.
Photo by Lynda Balslev for TasteFood

When I crave a comforting weeknight meal that’s guaranteed to please the entire family and can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes, I make a pasta carbonara.

There is nothing more pleasing than a bowl of cheese-slicked noodles, the Roman answer to homey comfort food. A mere handful of ingredients usually stashed in the refrigerator — eggs, cheese and frozen peas — are effortlessly transformed into a rich, glistening sauce coating a heaping bowl of pasta studded with crispy bacon bits and sweet peas. While the peas are optional, I like to include them as a fresh and sweet counterpoint to the salty bacon. They also allow me to righteously call this a complete meal, with vegetables, in a bowl.

The key to making carbonara is to add the whisked eggs and cheese to the hot noodles away from direct heat, while stirring constantly to thoroughly coat the noodles. The heat from the pasta will help to cook the eggs while preventing them from scrambling. It may sound complicated, but once you give it a go, you will see how easy and foolproof this method is. Spaghetti Carbonara With Sweet Peas

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

1 pound spaghetti or bucatini

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

6 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 large eggs

1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling

1 cup (or more if desired) frozen sweet peas, thawed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente and drain.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the bacon, stirring to separate the pieces, and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel.

While the bacon is cooking, whisk the eggs and cheese in a bowl until smooth; set aside. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan. Add the peas, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the drained pasta to the skillet and stir to coat the noodles. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly add the eggs and cheese, stirring constantly to coat the pasta and to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Return the bacon to the pan and stir once more. Serve immediately with extra cheese for sprinkling.

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