• Sweet Pea Penne Carbonara


Sweet Pea Penne Carbonara

By Andrew Zimmern

So a few weeks ago I was making my sweet pea risotto for dinner and thought, what about a sweet pea carbonara? There are lots of fun ways to flavor a traditional carbonara. Bittman, the NYT and Food & Wine magazine all have various versions of spinach carbonara, and a few small websites have pea carbonara, mostly just whole peas in a more traditional carbonara. I also had a picky eater in my home who didn’t want me to use guanciale (cured pork jowl), without which is a carbonara really a carbonara??? But since I was adding pea purée to begin with, I thought, “Why not?” Next time, I am adding my crisped guanciale on top and cooking the pasta and purée in the rendered fat as I normally would, but this light, pork-free version was simply amazing — just make sure you use plenty of cheese and pass more parmigiana  and pecorino at the table.

TIP: I started cooking pasta in infused water and I love the results, in this case I simmered water with dried herbs for 20 minutes to really bring out the flavor and then added my dried pasta. You will love it.

Sweet Pea Penne Carbonara


  • 1/2 pound dried pasta (rigatoni, penne, ziti are all great)
  • 1  1/2 cups cooked and drained peas (frozen is A-OK)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup scallion greens, coarsely chopped
  • Juice of a half lemon
  • Small handful of fresh basil
  • 2 cups grated mix of Reggiano Parmigiana and Pecorino Romana
  • 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence


Place all the ingredients except the pasta in a blender. Purée to combine.

Cook the pasta in seasoned salty water.

Right before pasta is ready to come out, add about 2/3 cup of the pasta water to a large saute pan over medium heat.

Scoop out the noodles and add to the pan.

Add the pea mixture and stir/toss until hot and thickened.

Pull from heat and add fresh salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

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