Skinny Carbonara With Peas, Almonds and Basil 2.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Nov 18, 2015

Here's a pre-holiday, something-to-take-your-mind-off-Thanksgiving-anxiety poser for you, prompted by this very recipe: At what point does a dish with "carbonara" in its name and some famously carbonara components become something else altogether? British food giant Jamie Oliver's healthful version inspires the question. On the traditional side, there are pasta, bacon, cheese, raw egg. Non-traditional: peas, almonds, lemon, basil, garlic, yogurt.

The end result doesn't look so much like a carbonara or taste like it or come together like it. But it's tasty, and you probably have the ingredients on hand right now. Most likely, when you tell your tablemates you're cooking alla carbonara, they'll come running.

Serve with a salad of peppery greens.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2 servings

  • Kosher salt
  • 7 ounces (1 3/4 cups) frozen green peas
  • 5 ounces whole-wheat pasta, preferably linguine
  • 1 tablespoon sliced, skin-on almonds
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 slice smoky bacon, preferably thick-cut
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • Leaves from 4 stems fresh basil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt


Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the peas. Cook for about 20 seconds, then use a strainer or Chinese skimmer to transfer the peas to a colander to drain.

Add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a medium dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan as needed to avoid scorching them. Transfer to a food processor to cool.

Line a small plate with a paper towel. Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium-low heat while you cut the bacon crosswise into very thin strips. Once the oil shimmers, add the bacon pieces. Cook for about 5 minutes, until just crisped. Transfer to the lined plate to drain; return the skillet to the stove top, off the heat.

Add the peas, garlic, basil, cheese and a pinch of salt to the almonds in the food processor. Cut the lemon in half; squeeze in its juice. Pulse just enough to create a chunky mixture, then transfer three-quarters of it to the skillet, stirring until just warmed through and combined with the oil in the pan.

Whisk together the egg and yogurt in a bowl until well incorporated.

Drain the pasta into a colander, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then transfer the pasta to the skillet, stirring to coat. Pour the egg-yogurt mixture over the pasta and toss quickly, until well incorporated. Add just enough of the pasta cooking water to create a silky, creamy sauce. Taste, and add salt as needed.

Divide between wide, shallow bowls. Top with equal amounts of the remaining pea mixture (from the food processor), and garnish with equal amounts of the bacon. Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Everyday Super Food," by Jamie Oliver (Ecco, 2015).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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