In spaghetti-carbonara recipes, egg yolks always appear in the ingredients list; they bind the ingredients and give a finished shine to the dish. Although I think the addition of the egg in the traditional carbonara was to add a nutritional element for the hardworking miners and land workers, today it serves more as an enhancer of flavor and texture for the dish.
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pot
- 1 pound penne or spaghetti
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large or 3 small artichokes, prepped and thinly sliced
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup grated Grana Padano
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter for the pan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. Add the penne, and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, in an 11-or 12–inch cast-iron (or nonstick) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the artichokes, and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the peas, and ladle in 1 cup of pasta water. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and the red-pepper flakes, cover, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 5 minutes more. Uncover, and raise the heat to cook away any excess liquid; there should be just enough liquid to coat the bottom of the pan.
While the vegetables cook, whisk together the eggs, ¼ cup of the grated cheese, the cream, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Butter a medium-sized baking pan.
When the vegetables and pasta are ready, scoop the pasta into the skillet with a spider, and toss to combine. Remove from heat, and let cool for a minute; then stir in the egg, cheese, and cream mixture. Set all in the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining ¾ cup grated cheese, and bake until set and crusty, about 20 minutes. Cool for a few minutes before serving.