Carbonara Bacon / Courgette / Pea

Carbonarra, +pea

Carbonarra, +pea

Course: PastaCuisine: Italian


Cooking time





  • See fitata
  • Dribble the egg in slowly.
  • Add cream – Alla Guardashorn


sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 medium courgettes , mix of green and yellow if available
500 g penne
4 large free-range egg yolks
100 ml single cream
1 small handful Parmesan cheese , freshly grated
olive oil
6 slices higher-welfare back bacon , cut into chunky lardons
1 small bunch fresh thyme , leaves picked and chopped, flowers reserved (if you can get hold of flowering thyme)
a few courgette flowers , optional


Carbonara is a classic pasta sauce made with cream, bacon and Parmesan and is absolutely delicious. Try to buy the best ingredients you can, as that’s what really helps to make this dish amazing. I’m using a flowering variety of thyme but normal thyme is fine to use. When it comes to the type of pasta, you can serve carbonara with spaghetti or linguine, but I’ve been told by Italian mammas (who I don’t argue with!) that penne is the original, so that’s what I’m using in this recipe. Before you start cooking, it’s important to get yourself a very large pan, or use a high-sided roasting tray so you can give the pasta a good toss.

Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Halve and then quarter any larger courgettes lengthways. Cut out and discard any fluffy middle bits, and slice the courgettes at an angle into pieces roughly the same size and shape as the penne. Smaller courgettes can simply be sliced finely. Your water will now be boiling, so add the penne to the pan and cook according to the packet instructions.

To make your creamy carbonara sauce, put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the cream and half the Parmesan, and mix together with a fork. Season lightly and put to one side.

Heat a very large frying pan (a 35cm one is a good start – every house should have one!), add a good splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta or bacon until dark brown and crisp. Add the courgette slices and 2 big pinches of black pepper, not just to season but to give it a bit of a kick. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves, give everything a stir, so the courgettes become coated with all the lovely bacon-flavoured oil, and fry until they start to turn lightly golden and have softened slightly.

It’s very important to get this next bit right or your carbonara could end up ruined. You need to work quickly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water. Immediately, toss the pasta in the pan with the courgettes, bacon and lovely flavours, then remove from the heat and add a ladleful of the reserved cooking water and your creamy sauce. Stir together quickly. (No more cooking now, otherwise you’ll scramble the eggs.)

Get everyone around the table, ready to eat straight away. While you’re tossing the pasta and sauce, sprinkle in the rest of the Parmesan and a little more of the cooking water if needed, to give you a silky and shiny sauce. Taste quickly for seasoning. If you’ve managed to get any courgette flowers, tear them over the top, then serve and eat immediately, as the sauce can become thick and stodgy if left too long.


300 g dried spaghetti
olive oil
100 g leftover hard cheese , such as Parmesan, Cheddar, Gruyère
3 large free-range eggs
250 ml double cream
250 g leftover cooked smoked higher-welfare ham
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain and leave to steam dry and cool in the colander. Meanwhile, rub the inside of a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin with oil, then finely grate a thin layer of cheese all over the base, shaking it up the sides.

Once the spaghetti is cool, transfer it to a large bowl, gently pulling it apart, then beat and add the eggs, along with the cream and a generous pinch of black pepper. Chop and add the ham, finely grate in the rest of your cheese, and pick, chop and add the rosemary leaves. Toss together well, then pack into the cake tin and place on a baking tray. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden, crisp and cooked through.

Leave the carbonara cake to sit for 3 minutes in the tin, then carefully and confidently run a knife around the rim and release it proudly on to a board. Serve with a fresh, zingy lemon-dressed salad on the side.