Asparagus and pasta carbonara oozes springtime comfort food

Carbonara consists of pasta and cured pork or bacon, whisked in a slick sauce of eggs and a shower of grated pecorino cheese.

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It’s easy to add vegetables to pasta carbonara, so you can confidently call this dish a complete meal.

It’s easy to add vegetables to pasta carbonara, so you can confidently call this dish a complete meal.

Lynda Balsle/TasteFood

Think of pasta carbonara as the Italian version of chicken soup. It’s humble and comforting and requires the simplest of ingredients.

Carbonara consists of pasta and cured pork (guanciale) or bacon, whisked in a slick sauce of eggs and a shower of grated pecorino cheese. The method is quick. It relies on the heat from the just-cooked pasta to cook the eggs and melt the cheese, while the sauce is constantly stirred to prevent the eggs from scrambling. It’s a one-dish meal — or in this case, a one-skillet meal. From start to finish, this dish can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes.

It’s easy to add a vegetable to carbonara, so you can confidently call this dish a complete meal. Peas and chopped cauliflower florets are great contenders. This springtime dish includes asparagus, which pairs exceptionally well with bacon and eggs.

Asparagus Carbonara

Yield: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup finely grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • 12 ounces orecchiette, or preferred pasta
  • 8 ounces thin asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon in batches until the fat renders and the bacon is crispy. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the skillet.

2. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a bowl until blended and set aside.

3. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente; drain.

4. While the pasta is cooking, add the asparagus to the skillet with the bacon fat. Saute over medium heat until the asparagus is bright in color, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant and the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 1 minute more.

5. Add the drained pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. 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. Stir in the reserved bacon.

6. Serve immediately with additional grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper for sprinkling.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories.

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