orecchiette carbonara with peas

From Sunday Suppers at Lucques, this take on a carbonara is a wonderful summery dish, with more complex flavours than the traditional version and with the added bonus of some vegetable content (increasingly I get twitchy if I eat a meal without any vegetables in it, although adding a side salad is, I know, always an option).

the richness of this dish comes from slow-cooked bacon, garlic and thyme but everything is then freshened up with the fresh sweet peas, the intensely-flavoured pea shoots and parsley. really lovely and worth deviating from your traditional carbonara, for a change.

suzanne goin’s orecchiette carbonara with english peas and pea shoots (serves four)

1 tablespoon olive oil

75g smoked bacon, thickly sliced and cut into 1cm cubes

100g pancetta, coarsely chopped so you have 1cm pieces

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

75g freshly grated parmesan

orecchiette for four (450-600g)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

2 teaspoons thyme leaves

350g freshly podded peas

50g pea shoots

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley.

freshly ground black pepper

bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.

in a large sauté pan, add the olive oil, bacon and pancetta and cook over a medium-low heat until the bacon and pancetta are slightly crisped but still tender.

meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, lightly whisk together eggs, egg yolks and most two thirds of the cheese. season lightly.

when water comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

meanwhile, add the onion, garlic and thyme to the bacon mix and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. just before the pasta is ready add the peas, coating them with the onion and bacon.

as the pasta cooks, measure out and reserve about 200ml of the hot pasta water. when it is al dente drain the pasta and add to the bacon and pea mix, with ½ a teaspoon of salt and toss together, grind in lots of black pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring well to incorporated. add the pasta, bacon and pea mix to the eggs, stirring vigorously to “cook” the eggs and coat the pasta in egg “sauce”*. add a little past water if the mixture seems too thick and season with salt and pepper to taste. toss in the pea shoots and parsley and transfer to a warmed serving bowl. sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

* when you add the eggs they should be warmed just enough to thicken them so they coat the pasta. if you overcook them the eggs will scramble; if the sauce is very soupy the eggs have not cooked enough – in this case you can return the mix to the pan and cook briefly, tossing the mix, over a very low flame.