Are you a fan of carbonara? Then you’ll love pasta alla papalina! This lesser-known pasta dish takes the flavors of carbonara to a whole new level with lots of parmesan cheese, ham, and a surprising addition of peas. Let’s dive into the story and recipe of this creamy delight.
The Origins of Pasta alla Papalina
Pasta alla papalina, also known as fettuccine alla papalina, has an intriguing origin story. Legend has it that this dish was first served to Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who would later become Pope Pius XII. The cardinal wanted a more refined version of spaghetti alla carbonara, and the chef at a Vatican restaurant rose to the challenge.
In his reinterpretation, the chef substituted fettuccine for spaghetti and used prosciutto instead of the traditional guanciale. He added a sautéed onion, rich Parmesan cheese, and a dash of cream. Thus, pasta alla papalina was born.
Creamy Goodness and the Peas Factor
While there are many interpretations of pasta papalina, I prefer to include peas in my recipe. Not only do they add a touch of freshness, but they also make this pasta dish a bit healthier. The ham and peas combo perfectly complement the creamy sauce, while the Parmesan adds a subtle richness.
What You’ll Need
To make pasta alla papalina, gather the following ingredients:
- Fettuccine or tagliatelle: Fresh pasta works best, taking just 2-3 minutes to boil. You can substitute fettuccine with tagliatelle, as they are similar in shape.
- Prosciutto or ham: Opt for small cubes of prosciutto if available. If not, cooked ham makes an excellent alternative.
- Peas: Though not part of the original recipe, peas add a healthy and flavorful twist.
- Double (heavy) cream: Don’t skimp on creaminess; double cream is key.
- Parmesan: Grate your own Parmigiano Reggiano for the best flavor.
- Eggs: Three medium-sized eggs will suffice for 100 grams of grated Parmesan.
How to Make Pasta alla Papalina
Now, let’s get cooking! Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to making this delicious pasta dish:
- Melt the butter in a large pan and sauté the onion until soft.
- Add the ham and cook until it changes color slightly.
- Introduce the peas to the pan and cook until tender.
- Whisk the eggs and grated Parmesan in a separate bowl.
- Pour the double cream into the pan with the ham and peas. Cook until the sauce thickens.
- Stir in a bit of pasta water, then add the drained pasta to the pan. Mix well to coat the pasta with sauce, and turn off the heat.
- Immediately pour the egg and Parmesan mixture over the pasta, tossing quickly to combine.
- Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately. If desired, top with extra grated Parmesan.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Turn off the heat before adding the egg mixture to avoid an omelette-like texture.
- If using fresh peas, par-boil them for 10 minutes before adding to the pasta sauce.
- Feel free to add mushrooms for an extra savory element.
- To make the sauce garlicky, add four minced garlic cloves with the onion.
If you enjoyed this pasta alla papalina recipe, be sure to check out some of my other pasta creations on the BDK Restaurant website. And for more delicious inspiration, follow BDK Restaurant on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!
Remember, pasta alla papalina is a dish brimming with creamy goodness. Prepare to indulge in the tantalizing flavors of ham, peas, and Parmesan, all enveloped in a velvety sauce. Buon appetito!