Asparagus carbonara: simple spring eating at its finest (Photo: Emma Boyd)

Recipe: Asparagus carbonara

Get your fill of the glorious green spears because they’re here for a good time, not a long time – and they make a damn fine addition to a classic carbonara.

You know that summer isn’t too far around the corner when asparagus makes an appearance on the supermarket shelves. I love the versatility of this vegetable. It is wonderful raw, sliced thinly into vibrant spring salads with lots of fresh herbs. Or barbecued over the hot embers of a wood fire and served simply with a squeeze of lemon, a splash of olive oil and some mint. The recipe below is a little more substantial and is a wonderful combination of crisp asparagus, smoky bacon and creamy carbonara sauce. Delicious served with a green salad and a good glass of white wine.   

ASPARAGUS CARBONARA

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200g streaky bacon, diced
  • 500g asparagus
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100g parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
  • 400g fettuccine

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and fry the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant, then add the bacon and fry until it begins to brown and catch to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to the boil. Break the woody end from each asparagus spear, then slice on the diagonal into roughly five pieces. Blanch the asparagus in the salted water for 2 minutes then remove from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and the parsley. Put the pasta on to cook in the water in which the asparagus was cooked.  

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the eggs, egg yolks and parmesan, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and whisk. Take 1/3 cup of the cooking water from the pasta and slowly drizzle into the egg mixture, whisking continuously until a smooth sauce is formed.  

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot along with the bacon mixture, the asparagus and the egg sauce. Mix well for a minute or so then divide between four bowls and top with extra parmesan cheese before serving.    


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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