We've been teaching this recipe at Life Kitchen since our very first class. Pancetta, Parmesan and peas bring that sought-after umami hit, while mint leaves and chilli wake up the senses. And, of course, tagliatelle offers comfort that is so inherent in every bowl of lovely pasta. If you don't eat meat, crab (another provider of umami) is a worthy substitute.
- 1 large onion, very roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 red or green chilli, roughly chopped
- Vegetable or rapeseed oil
- 200g smoked bacon lardons
- 100g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
- 2tsp salt, plus extra to season
- 4 eggs
- 400g dried tagliatelle
- A large handful of frozen peas
- A small handful of mint leaves, torn if large
- Freshly ground black pepper
Pulse the onion, garlic and chilli in a food processor to finely chop. (Or, finely chop by hand.)
Place a frying pan on a medium-low heat and add a glug of oil. When hot, add the chopped mixture and the lardons and season with salt. Cover with a lid (or use foil) and sweat on a low heat for 20-30 minutes, removing the lid to stir occasionally, until the onions have melted to a golden paste.
Meanwhile, beat together the grated Parmesan and the eggs in a bowl and season.
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the two teaspoons of salt and cook the tagliatelle according to the packet instructions. Two minutes before the end of the cooking time, take two ladlefuls of the cooking water and stir it in to the Parmesan and egg mixture.
Then, add the frozen peas to the pan with the pasta. When the pasta is cooked, drain it with the peas and tip everything back into the pan.
Add the Parmesan and egg mixture and the onion and bacon mixture to the pasta and peas and stir – the sauce will take 2-3 minutes to heat through; just keep stirring and it will turn glossy and coat the pasta. Transfer to a serving dish and scatter over the mint leaves and extra Parmesan.
Taste and flavour fact
Carbonara is a classic pasta dish, involving several sources of umami and many different textures. The addition of cooling mint, a trigeminal stimulant, offers piquancy, making this version of carbonara especially good for those with a diminished sense of smell.
Taken from Life Kitchen by Ryan Riley (Bloomsbury, £20)
Photography by Clare Winfield
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