Pasta carbonara, with pancetta, peas and sage

Food & drink
Artisan pasta carbonara from Millie’s, Leeds

As I suspect plenty of people do, I buy massive bags of pasta from the supermarket. Most of it gets cooked quickly and eaten even more quickly when we arrive home either late or starving.

Pasta often gets degraded to a ‘there’s not enough time to cook anything’ convenience food, but that really doesn’t do it justice at all.

This is a fairly quick and easy carbonara, with peas, sage and pancetta.  It took about fifteen minutes to cook from start to finish, barely longer than it takes to crack open another jar of Dolmio.

Get the pasta going first, enough for four.  Typically, you’d use a spaghetti or tagliatelle or some other long, thin pasta, but there are no rules.  I don’t need to describe how to cook pasta, surely?

Now heat a large frying pan and add a good glug of olive oil and 150g of pancetta or bacon lardons.  Eight or nine rashers of streaky bacon will do, but the robustness of the lardon gives the finished dish a lot more backbone.

Give the pancetta or bacon about three or four minutes so that it starts to crisp, then add a finely chopped clove of garlic and fry for another minute.

Next add 300ml of double cream to the pan and bring it quickly to the boil before turning the heat down to let the cream simmer and thicken for about five minutes.

Millies Leeds artisan pasta carbonara

At this point, you may be wondering where the eggs are.

There are none.

This is an essentially inauthentic carbonara, but one which has no chance whatsoever of splitting.  It’s a safe dish.

When the cream has thickened up slightly, add 150g of peas – either fresh or defrosted frozen ones – to the pan and cook for another three or four minutes.

You’re nearly there, but your carbonara needs it’s soul.  In goes 60g of grated Parmesan and a good seasoning of salt and pepper.

When the pasta is ready, drain it and quickly add to the frying pan along with a small handful each of chopped sage and chopped flat leaved parsley, turning and lifting until the pasta is evenly coated.

Serve immediately.  Pasta waits for no one.

For this dish, I didn’t use my normal, common or garden pasta…instead I used an artisan pasta, made by hand in a small factory in Puglia and coloured using only natural ingredients such as spinach, beetroot and, um, squid ink.  This pasta really was in a different class, and it showed, both on the plate and in the taste.

The recipe is from Gordon Ramsay’s so-so Cooking for Friends: Food from My Table, but the pasta is from the excellent Millie’s Fresh and Organic of Leeds.