In the Kitchen with Jackie — Spring Carbonara

With the first signs of spring I’m ready to start cooking with fresh greens. Asparagus and peas are some of my favorites because they are so effortlessly incorporated into a number of dishes, like pasta!
I was inspired to create a springtime carbonara, studded with bright tender vegetables. Carbonara is a classic rich and creamy sauce made with guanciale and eggs. The eggs are heated gently as to not curdle, resulting in a luxurious sauce. While the first carbonara recipes date back to the 1940’s, the name “carbonara” is rooted in the Italian for charcoal burner. It is speculated that this was the dish of the coal miners of the Apennine mountains in the Lazio region of Italy. It’s yet another hearty pasta dish that transforms humble ingredients into something magical. 

For this recipe I used Pietro Massi tagliatelle. Carbonara traditionally uses tubular pasta shapes, but the bold egg flavor of this tagliatelle and the carbonara sauce is a magnificent combination. You can see the difference in its golden color and textured surface – perfect for grabbing sauce. For over 30 years Pietro Massi has been perfecting pasta with his IPLAR system breaking the pasta production into four phases – moisturizing, pre-dough production, dough production, and cold rolling. His revolutionary machine has us wondering if we can ever look at dried pasta the same.

This recipe has an additional twist of featuring the beloved Benton’s Bacon in lieu of the more traditional guanciale. Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams has been producing mouthwatering dry cured bacon since 1947 using nothing but salt, pepper and brown sugar. This bacon has a distinctive smoky quality to it and cooking it fills the home with delicious smells of a campfire. I used the rendered fat of the bacon to cook the vegetables to get that smoky goodness throughout the entire dish. 

Spring Carbonara
Serves four
Prep time 10 minutes — Cooking time 20 minutes

250g Pietro Massi Tagliatelle
¼ pound Benton’s bacon, diced
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
1 cup shelled peas, fresh or frozen
2 whole eggs, plus 2 yolks
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper, plus more for serving
Grated Pecorino Romano for serving

Boil pasta according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed skillet, cook bacon over medium low heat. Stir occasionally allowing bacon to crisp and fat to render. When the bacon is cooked, about 7 minutes, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Using the rendered bacon fat, sauté asparagus and peas over medium heat, about another 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and add cooked bacon when vegetables are tender and cooked through.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and yolks. Stir in cheese with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is finished cooking, reserve a cup of pasta water. Add cooked pasta to the skillet. Slowly add the egg mixture to the skillet while tossing it with the pasta. (The goal is to heat the eggs enough to cook through but not curdle with the residual heat from the pasta and skillet.)

Stir in pasta water a little at a time to achieve desired creaminess. Serve immediately and finish with grated pecorino and fresh ground black pepper.

Previously on In the Kitchen with Jackie: 


    Hello! My name is Jackie Botto and I’ve been working with Di Bruno Bros. for over five years – styling, photographing and sometimes cooking with all the phenomenal ingredients they offer. CHEESE? Yes, mostly cheese. This blog is the space where I’ll share the things I make. No, I am not a professional chef, I’m a home chef! I cook for myself, my family, my friends – and then I take photos of what I make with the hope it inspires you to cook too.Want to share some tips or pairings of your own? Please leave a comment below!