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As we are in January and probably all attempting to eat more healthily, here is a lighter alternative to Carbonara – I find it just as satisfying.

To reduce the calories further I often use a cream substitute such as Emlea because you can’t  really taste the difference, I also grill rather than fry the bacon. The peas are cooked for a long time, such is the way with a lot of Italian cooking, that they take on a lovely flavour and softness which makes them especially palatable for kids.

This is a very cheap dish, so great all round.

Serves 4


Can be frozen then re-heated in microwave or pan, but you may find you need to add a little extra liquid such as milk or water.


Rigatoni 400g

Pancetta or smoked bacon 150g

Red onion x 1

Olive oil – 1 tbs

Frozen petit pois (or normal peas) 150g

Single Cream 250ml

Chicken Stock 250ml

Back pepper to taste

Grana Padano (or parmesan) 50g


  • Grill the bacon on a medium heat until crispy – set aside on kitchen roll to absorb the excess fat
  • While the bacon is grilling, finely chop the onion
  • Heat the olive oil in a large non stick pan on a medium heat
  • Add the onions to the oil and cook until translucent and soft
  • Cut the bacon into 1cm squares, it find this easier with scissors (I also remove all the fat, but that is up to you)
  • Add bacon to the onions once they have softened
  • Put in the peas and then heat until no longer frozen
  • Season with black pepper and then add stock  – I find this to be enough seasoning considering saltiness of the bacon, but do add salt if you prefer
  • Cook on a medium, stirring occasionally until almost all the liquid had absorbed (just a bit should remain) this will take around 25 minutes. Once it reaches this stage add the cream and heat it until it simmers
  • In the meantime boil some water, cook the rigatoni until al dente and drain
  • Add the pasta to the cream sauce and stir in half the cheese
  • Serve immediately sprinkled with the excess cheese