Pea and Asparagus Carbonara Recipe

You may or may not realize this, but here in West Virginia we have a huge Italian culture. In the early 1900’s immigrants settled here to find their fortunes in the coal mining industry.  Ironically enough, one of the dishes they brought with them to this region was carbonara.  Carbonara (translated as burning coals) is a humble dish made of simple ingredients such as cheese, egg, and pasta sprinkled with a heavy dose of pepper which reminded the miners wives of coal dust.  Knowing that West Virginia has a deep coal mining heritage, this dish is well, perfect.  

The finished pan of pea and asparagus carbonara with the title above it.

Now that we are well into spring I find myself inspired by the produce of the season, so today I am sharing with you my Pea and Asparagus Carbonara Recipe!  It’s absolutely amazing and so simple to make, I know you’re gonna love it so...

Let's Get Started!

For this Pea and Asparagus Carbonara Recipe you are going to need a few simple ingredients.

A picture of the ingredients needed to make the pea and asparagus carbonara.

  • 3 Sliced of Bacon
  • 8oz. Pappardelle Pasta (or any long pasta)
  • 1c Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1lb. Asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1c Frozen Peas
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • Chopped Basil

A copper pot full of water, coming to a boil on the stove.

To begin place a pot of water on the stove to boil, adding a tablespoon of salt.

Always salt your water because this is the ONLY chance you have to truly season your pasta.

Three pieces of bacon cooking in a cast iron skillet.

Traditionally you would use guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl) or pancetta (Italian bacon), but in true West Virginia fashion, I'm resourceful and use what I have on hand...good ol' fashioned country bacon.  

Place three slices of bacon into a COLD pan.  Turn the heat to medium/high and cook until fully crisp.  This should take 10-15 minutes.

The reason you don't want to preheat your pan is because you want to render the fat from the bacon as well as crisp it.  If you put it in a hot pan it would immediately cook without releasing all its fatty goodness.  

Fresh asparagus, cut up into bite-sized pieced, on a cutting board.

While you are waiting for the bacon to cook you can trim the woody ends from the asparagus and cut it into bite-sized pieces.

Two dishes on a cutting board.  One contains two egg yolks.  One containing the egg whites.

After that you will need to separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.

If you are unsure how to do that I will link a great tutorial (HERE).

Don't worry about wasting the egg whites.  You can use them for a lovely egg white omelet the next day or even freeze them for later.

The egg yolks, grated parmesan cheese, pepper, and fresh basil in a mixing bowl.

Once you have separated your eggs you can add the yolks to a mixing bowl with the grated parmesan, pepper, and a little of the basil.

The egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, pepper, and basil all mixed together.

Mix it all together.

Usually this would be a creamy sauce-like consistency, but as I was mixing it, the cheese absorbed the egg and it became a thick paste.  When evaluating what would have caused this I realized that normally I use fresh grated parmesan cheese.  However, on this day, I only had the powdered parmesan cheese.  If this happens to you, don't fret.  It's an easy fix and I will explain how in a few steps.

The three pieces of bacon, fully cooked, on a towel.

By now your bacon should be fully cooked and the fat rendered.  Remove it from the pan.

Two tablespoons of butter being added to the cast iron skillet.

Add the butter to the pan with the bacon fat and...

The pasta being added to the boiling water on the stove.

Place your pasta in the salted, boiling, water and cook according to the directions on the package.

Diced onion and garlic in the cast iron skillet.

Now to the pan you will add the butter and garlic.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent and you can smell the garlic coming up from the pan.

I'm not kidding when I say if they made an air freshener or candle in this scent I would buy them ALL!

The asparagus added to the cast iron skillet.

Next, add the asparagus to the pan.

Cook 2-3 minutes.

This may not seem like a lot of time, but you don't want to overcook the asparagus here.  You want it to be tender, but still have a little snap to it!

The frozen peas added to the cast iron skillet.

Now add the frozen peas to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, just to heat through.

The cooked pasta added to the cast iron skillet.

By now your pasta should be finished cooking so add it to the pan as well.

The egg and cheese mixture added to the pan.

NOW...This is the point where I would pour the egg and cheese mixture over the dish and add a couple scoops of the pasta water to create a beautiful sauce, but as you can see, it came out in one clump.  The perfectionist in me wanted omit this shot, but I thought NO.  This is the perfect opportunity to show you that you can fix just about any kitchen mishap.

The egg and cheese mixture was too think so I scooped in back into the bowl, added a little water, and whisked until smooth.

Since this was OBVIOUSLY NOT SAUCY, I simply scooped the gloopy mass from the pan, added a little of the pasta water, and whisked it until smooth and creamy.  Problem solved.

The sauce poured over everything in the cast iron skillet.

Turn the heat off from under the pan, pour the sauce over everything, and toss.

The heat from pasta water and veggies will gently cook the egg giving you this silky, flavorful sauce.


Add the chopped bacon to the cast iron skillet.

But wait!  There's more!

Go ahead and sprinkle that chopped bacon over everything.

Sprinkle Pepper over everything in the cast Iron skillet.

Dust a little more pepper over the top because...coal dust DUH!

The finished pan of Pea and Asparagus Carbonara.

Add a little more parmesan cheese and this Pea and Asparagus Carbonara is ready to eat!


Look at this gorgeous pan!  Full of texture and color, who wouldn't want to dive in.  You would never guess that the ingredients were so humble.  Serve this up with a nice, fresh garden salad and you truly have the perfect meal!  I know you're going to LOVE this Pea and Asparagus Carbonara so get in the kitchen and make it TONIGHT!

And as always...

Happy Reading, Happy Eating, and Happy Living,
~The Kitchen Wife~


  1. This looks to DIE for! I am making it ASAP

    1. YAY! Thank you so much! I can't wait to hear what you think!!!

  2. Looks delicious. We love all of these ingredients too. Very nice to include the tip on fixing the sauce mishap. (We all have them) I am from WV and did not know the story about the Carbonara. Thx!

    1. Thanks Pam! I will be the first one to confess that I never want to show "mistakes" in the kitchen, but it's like you said WE ALL HAVE THEM! I'm sure Gordon Ramsey even has then from time to time. The important thing is to show how you can come back from that. And I LOVE learning about the food heritage of our state! It's so interesting. West Virginians are such a beautiful and resourceful people!


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