4 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
50g parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
100g pancetta, cut into small pieces
1 medium fennel bulb (about 200g) with fronds
2 tablespoons capers
zest of ½ lemon
½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
200g asparagus or beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
200g tagliatelle or pappardelle

I like to add veges to a traditional-style carbonara; sometimes this is as simple as adding some asparagus or broccoli to the pasta a few minutes before it’s cooked. Braised fennel adds a lovely touch of aniseed that works so well with egg. I would add asparagus when in season, but here I have used more readily available green beans.


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1.Whisk together the eggs and parmesan in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
2.Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
3.Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, casserole or deep frying pan (with a lid) to a medium heat and cook the breadcrumbs for about 5 minutes until golden and crispy. Set aside.
4.Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the pan and cook the pancetta for a few minutes until browned and crisp then scoop out and set aside.
5.Trim the fennel bulb, reserving the fronds, and cut lengthwise into thin wedges.
6.Put in the pan with the capers and lemon zest.
7.Pour over the stock, cover and bring to a simmer, then reduce to low and cook for 10-15 minutes until the fennel is tender.
8.Add the asparagus or beans and toss around to coat with the juices, then cover and cook for a final 5-10 minutes until tender (less time for asparagus, more for beans).
9.While this cooks, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes less than the packet instuctions.
10.Drain, add to the cooked vegetables and mix through for a few minutes to finish cooking and absorb any remaining vegetable cooking juices.
11.Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the beaten egg mix, stirring constantly so the eggs don’t scramble; they should just cook enough in the residual heat to make a silky sauce.
12.If you feel the eggs aren’t cooked enough, put the pan over the lowest heat you can and stir gently but constantly to cook a little more.
13.Serve with the pancetta, breadcrumbs and extra parmesan if liked.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles