Food & Dining

Remake pasta carbonara as summer salad

This carbonara pasta salad in a serving dish is great for a summer picnic.
This carbonara pasta salad in a serving dish is great for a summer picnic. By MATTHEW MEAD

Pasta carbonara -- richly cheesy, creamy and studded with crisped pancetta -- is easily one of the most comforting of pasta dishes.

The only trouble is, with the warmer weather, we tend to crave salads more than steaming bowls of pasta. So for this recipe, we decided to have it both ways.

We borrowed the key ingredients from pasta carbonara -- right down to the eggy sauce and savory pancetta -- but remade them as a picnic-worthy pasta salad. Every bit as delicious as the traditional dish, but far more refreshing on a hot day.

And as with most pasta salads, this one is easily adjusted and added to. Sliced sun-dried tomatoes, marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, even blanched asparagus all would make fine additions.

What you'll need:

  • 16 ounces gemelli or rotini pasta.
  • Nine ounces finely chopped pancetta.
  • One cup fresh peas.
  • Three egg yolks.
  • Three cloves garlic, minced.
  • One tablespoon Dijon mustard.
  • Two tablespoons white balsamic vinegar.
  • One tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Half a cup mild olive oil.
  • Salt and ground black pepper.
  • One cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Three scallions thinly sliced.
  • Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well, then spread on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.

    Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy, about six minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. Add the peas to the skillet and cook just until tender, three to four minutes. Transfer to the plate with the pancetta and allow to cool.

    While everything cools, make the dressing. In a blender, or in a medium bowl with a whisk, combine the egg yolks, garlic, mustard, vinegar and lemon juice. In a slow stream, add the oil, whisking or blending until thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

    In a large bowl, combine the cooled pasta, pancetta, peas, dressing, Parmesan and scallions. Toss well. For best flavor, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

    Start to finish: 30 minutes. Servings: Eight. Nutrition information per serving: 560 calories; 270 calories from fat (48 percent of total calories); 30 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 110 mg cholesterol; 48 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 20 g protein; 810 mg sodium.