Simple ingredients, short cooking time and heaps of flavour are what we all love for a busy weeknight meal, right? Why not try a true Italian classic – Pasta e Piselli for your next quick pasta affair? This Pasta with Peas and Bacon is extremely easy to make with just a handful of ingredients, but the combination of al dente pasta, salty bacon, sweet green peas and fresh mint will blow your socks off!
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But What Is Pasta E Piselli?
Pasta e Piselli (or “pasta with peas” in English) is a classic Italian dish that is typically made with pasta, peas, and a simple butter or oil-based sauce. It’s a popular dish in Italian cuisine, particularly in the southern regions of Italy, and is often served as a hearty and satisfying meal.
Pasta e Piselli can be made with various types of pasta, including short pasta like penne or rigatoni, or long pasta like spaghetti or linguine. It can also be served with grated Parmesan cheese or/ and crispy bacon (better yet, pancetta) on top for added flavour.
Ingredients and Substitutes
- pasta: any shop-bought pasta will be just fine, but we prefer short pasta types.
- smoked pancetta (Italian bacon): or smoked bacon, cut into small pieces.
- olive oil: don’t use extra virgin olive oil, as it is not suitable for cooking on high heat.
- brown onion: red or white onion, and even shallots will work here too.
- garlic clove: minced or finely chopped.
- stock: use vegetable stock or chicken broth.
- frozen peas: or fresh peas, if that’s what you have.
- dried mixed herbs.
- fresh mint: other fresh herbs work in this recipe too. Try this simple recipe with chives, parsley or fresh thyme.
- parmesan cheese: parmigiano reggiano is always a good choice, but you can substitute it with Padana Grano or Pecorino Romano Cheese.
Bring a large saucepan of water with some salt to a boil. Cook pasta following the instructions on the packet, making sure it’s cooked al dente.
Heat a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the pancetta, or bacon, chopped into small pieces and cook until crispy (about 5 minutes). Take the bacon out of the pan and set aside.
If the pan is looking dry, add a tablespoon of oil. Tip in the onions and saute for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Then add the garlic and carry on cooking for 30 seconds longer.
In to the onion mixture, pour in the stock/ broth and tip in the peas and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook on high heat for a couple of minutes, until the sauce is reduced by about half.
Reduce it to low heat, and add the drained cooked pasta to the sauce. Stir in half of the parmesan and mint. Season with salt and black pepper if needed.
Divide the pasta between bowls, top it with crispy bacon, and parmesan and garnish with extra mint.
Tips & Tricks For Success
- Use high-quality ingredients. This pasta with peas and bacon uses very simple everyday ingredients, so there is no place to hide. The key to a delicious Pasta e Piselli is using high-quality ingredients. Use good-quality pasta, bacon and cheese, if you can.
- Cook the bacon first. Cook the bacon in a pan until crispy, and then set it aside. Use the same pan for cooking the onion and garlic to infuse the flavours of the bacon into the sauce.
- Cook pasta al dente. Overcooked pasta will turn mushy and have no texture.
- Don’t add too much salt: Whilst seasoning the dish is of paramount importance, remember that bacon and cheese will add a lot of salt to the dish.
How To Cook Pasta Al Dente?
To cook pasta al dente, start by boiling a large pot of salted water. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, add your pasta and stir immediately to prevent sticking. Follow the package instructions for cooking time, but generally, aim to cook it for a minute or two less than the recommended time for a firmer texture. Taste a piece to check for doneness, and when it’s slightly firm with a slight bite (al dente), drain the pasta immediately.
What Pasta Shapes Are Best For Pasta e Piselli?
For Pasta e Piselli, a type of small pasta like Ditalini or small shells works best due to their ability to capture and hold the peas and sauce in each bite, delivering a delightful and harmonious combination of flavors and textures. The petite size of these pasta shapes complements the peas in this classic Italian dish, making it easy to enjoy every component in every spoonful.
Can I Use Fresh Peas in This Recipe?
Yes, you can use fresh sweet peas or baby peas in a Pasta e Piselli recipe for a vibrant and sweet flavour that enhances the dish. Simply add them to the sauce and continue with the recipe as normal.
What To Serve With Pasta E Piselli Recipe?
Almost any pasta dish can be made better by serving it with cheesy garlic bread, right? But if you are looking for something a little more unconventional, or more nutritious, why not try it with a side of Roasted Cherry Tomatoes or Courgette Ribbon Salad?
Storage & Reheating
Make sure to cool down your pasta piselli to room temperature. Then Spoon the leftover pasta in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. We highly recommend storeing the script bacon separately to maintain its texture.
The best way to reheat Pasta e Piselli is in a microwave, or on the stove with a bit of butter in the pan. Note that reheating the pasta will make it softer (so it will no longer be al dente).
Other Easy Pasta Recipes
We always turn to an easy pasta recipe when we are too busy to spend hours in the kitchen on a busy weeknight. If this Pasta With Peas recipe does not float your boat, here are some of our other absolute favourite pasta dishes that come together in less than 30 minutes:
- Creamy Miso Pasta (Easy, Five-Ingredient Recipe)
- Spicy Chicken Arrabbiata Pasta
- Chicken and Chorizo Pasta Recipe With Creamy Tomato Sauce
- Vegetarian Puttanesca (Pasta With Olives and Capers)
Pasta e Piselli (Pasta With Peas and Bacon)
- 180 g pasta
- 150 g smoked pancetta or smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 brown onion finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove minced or finely chopped
- 60 ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 120 g frozen garden peas
- ½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- 5 g fresh mint finely chopped
- 30 g parmesan cheese finely grated
- Bring a large pot of water with some salt to a boil. Cook pasta following instruction on the packet, making sure it's cooked al dente.
- Heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, or bacon, chopped into small pieces and cook until crispy (about 5 minutes). Take the bacon out of the pan and set aside.
- If the pan is looking dry, add a tbso of oil. Tip in the onions and saute for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Then add the garlic and carry on cooking for 30 seconds longer.
- Pour in the stock/ broth and tip in the peas and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook on high heat for a couple of minutes, until the sauce is reduced by about half.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the drained pasta to the sauce. Stir in half of the parmesan and mint. Season with salt and black pepper if needed.
- Divide the pasta between bowls, top it with crispy bacon, parmesan and garlish with extra mint.