In 2018, I was working on a cookbook that I knew would be published in October 2020, one month before a contentious election. I thought, no matter what side of the political aisle you were on, you were going to be seriously stressed. (Little did I know that there would also be a global pandemic.) That’s when I decided to make the cookbook all about comfort food. I wanted to include recipes for classics like tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches but to make them fresher, more delicious and easier to prepare. That’s why I called my cookbook Modern Comfort Food. This Spring Green Spaghetti Carbonara is the essence of that idea. Classic pasta carbonara is made with lots of eggs, cheese and pancetta. It’s delicious but it’s also pretty rich. I lightened it up by adding fresh spring vegetables like snow peas, asparagus and English peas plus lots of scallions and chives. I also find that the classic dish doesn’t have that “edge” that I like — a vinegary or tart flavor that really makes all the other ingredients pop — so I added the zest and juice of a whole lemon. Don’t worry; I kept all the pancetta and lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese! This is a delicious dinner: a classic Italian dish, updated, and so comforting on a cold night!
Bring a large pot of water with 2 tablespoons salt to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reserve a cup of the pasta water, then add the snow peas, fresh peas and asparagus to the spaghetti and cook for 2 minutes longer. Drain the pasta and vegetables together.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium (10- to 11-inch) sauté pan over medium heat, add the pancetta and cook for 7 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. Transfer the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
While the pancetta cooks, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water and set aside to heat the bowl. Just before you drain the pasta, pour the water out of the bowl. Put the cream, eggs, egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water into the bowl and whisk to combine. Immediately, add the hot pasta and vegetables and toss with tongs for a full minute or two, until the pasta absorbs the sauce. Add enough reserved hot pasta water to keep the sauce creamy. Add the 3/4 cup Parmesan, the scallions, chives, lemon zest and juice, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and toss well. Add the pancetta, sprinkle with salt and serve hot sprinkled with extra chives and Parmesan.