Pasta Carbonara with Pea Shoots

Recipe by Chef Jonathan Bardzik

First, let me be clear, this is pasta dressed in pork fat, egg yolks and cheese. There is nothing light about it — although the nutritional value is amazing! This is meant to be served as a small, decadently-rich, first course. The pea shoots add a delightful fresh, sweet balance. Bonus points for getting through your entire plate without saying, “I shouldn’t be eating this but…”


1 tbs olive oil
1/4 lb Guanciale – Italian salt pork cut in 1/2” dice (see tip)
2 lbs bucatini or spaghetti
3 egg yolks
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
1 bunch pea shoots


1) Bring a 6-8 qt pot of salted water to a boil.

2) Warm olive oil in a 12” skillet over med heat. Add Guanciale and cook until fat has rendered and pork is crispy, about 7-10 minutes. Reserve on paper towels. Leave rendered fat in the pan and season generously with black pepper.

3) At the same time you begin cooking your Guanciale, add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente.

4) Meanwhile, place egg yolks and Parmesan in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add reserved hot fat from Guanciale and stir through. The hot fat will melt the cheese making a creamy sauce.

5) Using tongs, transfer pasta and 1/2 cup of cooking liquid to bowl with sauce and toss to coat.

6) Return pasta cooking liquid to a boil and submerge pea shoots for 30 seconds to blanch. Remove pea shoots and drain. Chop if desired and serve with pasta.

TIP: Guanciale is Italian salt pork. You could also use salt pork, Pancetta or bacon.

TIP: By removing the pasta from the boiling water with tongs rather than draining it in the sink, you can use the already hot water to blanch your pea tendrils.