The sweet peas that arrived in my CSA share this past week have been screaming “do something different with us.” And really, who’s to argue with talking veggies?
For some reason pasta came into my head and when I added the bacon and then the lemon zest in my brain, I had arrived at the sweet peas’ destination: Fettuccine Carbonara.
Through my experiments, I’m quickly determining that my favourite pasta recipe is also an incredibly versatile dish (see previous Salmon Carbonara recipe) … and while even this variation won’t make it into any HeartSmart cookbooks, with the addition of all the fresh fibre and nutrients from the whole sweet peas, this dish definitely comes without any serious guilt. But guilt or nutrition aside, most importantly, as is true with any dish, and especially when messing with perfection (like carbonara), the creation has to taste great … and this most certainly does. The smokiness of the bacon with a bit of zing from the lemon zest when paired with the sweet, fresh crunch of the perfectly cooked spring peas is a perfect melding of flavours that will have you wishing such fresh peas were all-year round.
Two quick notes about the ingredients: You will know you have found the right peas for this dish when they are firm to the touch and easily ‘snap’ when bent. I also used small, young onions for this dish while topping the dish with fresh chives. Alternatively, you could use green onions, thinly slicing the white parts for frying and finely chopping the greens for topping. And, most importantly, don’t overcook the peas. The quick steam they get is enough and guarantees that very satisfying crunch remains in every bite.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Fettuccine Carbonara with Sweet Peas
- 1 pound (500 grams) fresh fettuccine
- 1 pound fresh sweet, spring peas
→ or substitute very fresh, crisp snow peas that have some ‘snap’ to them
- 3.5 ounces (5-6 thick slices) double-smoked bacon or pancetta
- 1 cup (2 small) julienned onions (thinly sliced lengthwise)
→ or substitute the whites of green onions, also julienned
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgen olive oil
(optional if bacon is too lean)
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, preferably Meyer lemon
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon of chilli paste (or a pinch of dried chillies)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 ounces of grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1/4 cup fresh chives
- Place a pasta pot of water on the stove and prepare to bring it to a boil.
- Prepare the fresh peas. Remove the “string” from the shells by snapping the stem end from the pea and pulling. Snap the pea in the middle, and remove any string from the other side as well. Repeat.
- Heat a stainless steel or or cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Slice and ‘cube’ the pancetta or bacon and place in the pan and fry for about 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the onions and when the pancetta has started to brown, toss in the young onions and fry till golden, another 3 minutes or so.
- If the pan is dry, add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat, and then add the minced garlic and lemon zest to the pan and cook another 1-2 minutes until garlic is cooked. Add chilli paste and stir.
- Toss in the fresh peas and the 1/4 cup of water and deglaze the pan to get all the caramelized bits into the sauce. Cook for about 1 minute until the water has evaporated. Add cream and heat 1 minute. Remove pan from heat.
- Toss in the fresh pasta into the boiling water now, and follow cooking instructions until fettuccine is cooked al dente. (approximately 5 minutes)
- Meanwhile, heat the eggs in a large bowl (you’ll be adding the pasta and all ingredients to this eventually so make sure it is large enough) and lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Remove pasta from water and drain well. Do Not Rinse.
→ Reserve a cup of pasta water.
- Return frying pan to heat and add the pasta and toss with the cream and peas and heat just long enough to make sure everything is still hot … then add all ingredients from the frying pan into the bowl with eggs and quickly stir. Don’t worry — the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. This is why the pasta needs to come directly from heat. Stir quickly to ensure the eggs don’t cook unevenly and turn into “scrambled eggs.”
→ Taste for seasoning. If too dry, add a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water.
- Serve into pasta bowls and top with Parmesan and fresh chives and enjoy.
Wine Pairing: Serve with with a Riesling that has reasonable acidity.