I come from a family of people who cook. I’m not the only one and we’re all rather good at it. My nuclear family as well as my extended family all excel at cooking and basically feed into the stereotype that it’s something Italians are good at. At some point or another I’m sure I’ll share a little something that they each do well.
For as long as I can remember, my oldest brother has cooked and done it well. The story goes that he learned how to cook because he hates doing the dishes. As we all know, when one person cooks, the other person washes dishes. It’s only fair. (In our household I usually wind up doing both).
Whenever we go to visit my brother, it’s a whirlwind of delicious restaurants around Miami, but he always picks at least one night to cook. The last time we visited (too long ago) he made pasta carbonara and it was amazing. My mother never made this growing up, so it had never really occurred to me to make it myself. This creamy pasta with bits of crispy pancetta goes well with rigatoni as it holds the sauce (and occasionally hides a pea or two inside of it like a vessel of deliciousness). It’s easy and more than a little indulgent, but it’s quick enough for a weeknight meal while being fancy enough to impress company.
makes 4-5 servings
1/4 pound thick sliced pancetta (or thick sliced bacon), diced
16 ounces rigatoni
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup frozen peas or 2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup half and half
3 large eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
In a large skillet, heat the pancetta on low heat until the fat has rendered off. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta. Add the olive oil, onion and garlic to the skillet and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the peas and cook until they are heated through. If using baby spinach, toss until wilted. In a large mixing bowl or pasta bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients. When your pasta has finished cooking, drain it and add it to the mixing bowl. Toss it with the egg and cheese mixture until everything is well combined and the sauce thickens a little bit. The hot pasta will cook the egg. Stir in the peas and pancetta and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
(Note: Do not add the pasta and egg mixture to the peas over the heat. This will cause the egg to scramble)