This Pasta and Peas is a classic and simple recipe that I've made a bit more modern & added a little more flavor! Pasta and Peas, also known as Pasta e Piselli, comes together for a quick lunch or dinner in less than 30 minutes and it is so yummy.
This meal is so easy to make and my kids went absolutely crazy over it. Kids eating peas? Seriously..it happened!
Fresh peas are only in season a few months of the year, so this recipe uses frozen peas. This way, we can enjoy this meal all year long. The way the peas are cooked in the chicken stock and pasta water keeps them really tender, sweet and delicious.
Why You'll Love This Recipe:
- It's super easy to make
- This recipe is great when you're on a budget
- It uses simple and minimal ingredients
- Everyone gets a serving of veggies
The Ingredients for Pasta e Piselli:
Frozen Sweet Peas- While fresh peas can certainly be used in this recipe, many of us have peas in the freezer, which means this recipe can be made at any time of the year. Sweet peas are the main character of this recipe and taste so delicious paired with pasta and cheese.
Garlic and Onion-Used for flavor and cooked just until softened and translucent.
Ditalini Pasta- Ditalini is the classic noodle choice for pasta and peas. They cook perfectly in this recipe and don't consume the dish because of their small size.
Pasta Water- Used to cook the pasta and create a bit of creaminess in the dish. When combined with the cheeses, the pasta water helps melt it into a light sauce that coats the pasta and peas.
Chicken Stock- added for additional flavor and a touch of saltiness.
Parmesan Cheese- A nutty cheese that I use in almost everything. In a simple dish like pasta e piselli, it's really important to have top notch, quality ingredients. Parmigiano Reggiano is highly recommended for this recipe. Their website calls it "the only parmesan" & I can agree with that statement. It's seriously so good!
Pecorino Romano Cheese- A nutty, bold cheese that has a bit more salty flavor than Parmesan. The two make a phenomenal pair. My favorite brand for Pecorino is Locatelli, which you can find at most grocery stores in the fine cheese section.
See the recipe card below for ingredients and quantities.
Variations & Substitutions:
For the pasta, you can use any small pasta, like Tubettini, small shells, or even elbow macaroni. Make sure it is similar size to ditalini though, or the cooking instructions below will be off on time.
If you want to add in meat, you can add diced pancetta or bacon in with the onion mixture or serve beside these Baked Skinless Chicken Thighs.
Prefer a more soup like pasta and peas, add in an additional cup or two of pasta water or chicken stock, until you get the desired consistency.
Don't love garlic in this recipe? Leave it out.
Need a vegetarian version? Swap out the chicken stock with vegetable stock or pasta water.
How to Make Pasta and Peas:
Here are the Step by Step Instructions for Pasta and Peas.
Step 1: Bring water to a boil in a large pot for the pasta. While the pasta water is coming to a boil, place a deep skillet or dutch oven on the stovetop over medium low heat. Add in the olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Pour in the onions and sprinkle with salt.
Step 2: Add the ditalini and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until they are somewhat cooked, but not quite to al dente yet. *Leave the pasta water on the stovetop. Do NOT dump out the pasta water.*
Step 3: The onions will cook low and slow while the pasta is boiling. Stir every few minutes. Note: If the onions start to brown at all, lower heat. Once the onions are fully softened, add in the garlic and cook for 60 seconds.
Step 4: Place the peas into the skillet and pour in the chicken stock. Stir.
Step 5: Using a strainer spoon, directly transfer the cooked ditalini pasta (with no pasta water yet) into the skillet or dutch oven.
Step 6: Add ½ cup of pasta water and continue to stir pasta for 5 minutes. Add another ½ cup pasta water and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off heat and sprinkle on parmesan cheese and pecorino romano. Use a wooden spoon and stir the cheese in really well to mix with the pasta water. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Step 7: Serve
Top with red pepper flakes and additional cheese, if desired. Serve and Enjoy!
- It's important to cook the pasta at the same time as cooking the onions. If the onions aren't softened yet once the pasta is ready to come out, transfer the pasta into a bowl until it's time to add them. Don't leave them cooking in the pasta water.
- When cooking the onions, you are looking for softened onions that are translucent, where you can see through them. If they start to brown at all, reduce the heat.
- After transferring the pasta into the skillet, make sure to stir frequently to avoid pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- If most of your pasta water has absorbed at the end of cooking and the cheese doesn't fully dissolve, you can add about ¼ cup of pasta water.
- I highly suggest using a dutch oven versus the enameled skillet I used. It worked, but I was loosing ditalini all over the place.
Piselli means peas in Italian. The classic dish "Pasta e Piselli" translates in English to Pasta and Peas.
Al dente means firm when bitten and it is slightly under cooked. In this recipe, we are cooking the pasta even more under cooked than al dente because the ditalini will cook more in the stock and pasta water. The finished product is a perfectly cooked pasta!
Storage & Reheating:
Store the leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge. I like to store about 1 cup of pasta water in a separate container.
When reheating, place a skillet on the stovetop on medium low heat. Add in the leftover pasta and mix a little more of the pasta water in as it heats up, about a tablespoon at a time. This will help you get the creaminess back out, instead of being dried out.
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