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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

Fettuccine alla Papalina | Roman Ham & Pea Pasta Recipe

While we have no evidence to back it up, we suspect that there’s some link between this classic Roman pasta dish and the Americanized carbonara, as the recipe makes just about every carbonara “mistake” found in the latter recipe. If you’ve always liked your carbonara with peas, give this recipe a shot but call it what it is: Pasta alla Papalina!

Fettuccine alla Papalina | Roman Ham & Pea Pasta Recipe

What Makes Pasta alla Papalina Different from Carbonara?

This pasta dish uses fresh egg pasta, whereas carbonara is always made with dry semolina pasta (such as spaghetti or rigatoni). While carbonara is made with (and ONLY with) guanciale, egg, pecorino cheese and black pepper, the sauce for Pasta alla Papalina uses butter, onion, prosciutto crudo (or ham), peas, eggs, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

While there are some variations of this dish which add cream, we recommend skipping it for two reasons. Firstly, Italian “panna” is actually quite different from heavy cream, so the end result won’t really be the same. Secondly, avoiding the addition of cream will really let the ingredients shine through and the flavor becomes surprisingly light and fresh.

What Kind of Pasta Should I Use to Make Pasta alla Papalina?

You’ll need fresh egg fettuccine which, for most people, means you’ll have to make it yourself. A plus, in our book! Check out our full guide here on how to make it at home.

Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make Fettuccine alla Papalina here:


Makes: 2 servings

Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 2 tbsp. (30g) unsalted butter

  • 1/4 white onion, diced

  • 2.5 oz. (70g) chopped prosciutto crudo or ham

  • 1/3 cup (50g) frozen peas

  • Salt

  • Fresh black pepper

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 2 oz. (55g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or to taste

  • 2 servings of fresh fettuccine

  • Pasta pot

  • Large pan

  • Wooden spoon

  • Tongs

  • Bowl

  • Fork or whisk

Put a large pot of water on to boil. While it comes up to temp, melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat.

Add the diced onion into the melted butter and sauté until tender and slightly transparent. Next, add the chopped prosciutto and frozen peas. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook the sauce for 10-15 minutes, spooning in a little bit of the hot pasta water as necessary to maintain some moisture in the pan.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and Parmigiano cheese together in a bowl. Set aside for later. When the pasta water comes to a rolling boil, salt it generously.

When the sauce is nearing completion, add the pasta into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes or until al dente to your taste. Transfer the fettuccine with tongs into the sauce and stir all together. Remove the pan from the heat, add the egg yolks and cheese, and mix all together thoroughly.

Serve immediately. Buon appetito!

Want to try a real carbonara? Check out our authentic recipe here! Looking for more recipes from Rome? Give this Roman chicken and peppers dish a shot!

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