Pasta with Peas and Pancetta is a simple Italian dish, which is perfect for the spring. Make this with fresh peas when you can find them, or frozen peas all year long.
When are peas in season?
Fresh English peas are available from the late spring to early summer, and peak in May.
They should have bright green pods with fully formed peas inside. They should be sweet, and are even edible raw when they’re very fresh.
I would avoid pre-shucked fresh peas, as they may be sitting around for a longer period of time. As time goes by, the sugar will be converted into starch, and the peas won’t be as sweet and tasty.
How to Shuck and Store Fresh Peas
Shucking peas is actually very easy. Simply pop open the pod with your hands and remove the peas. That’s it!
To store freshly shucked peas, I place them in a bowl and cover them with a slightly damp paper towel. Then I cover that with plastic wrap to seal in moisture.
The peas will stay fresh for several days after shucking. You can also blanch the peas for one minute in boiling water, shock them in ice water, drain them, and store in the fridge for up to 7 -10 days.
Pasta with Peas and Panetta make the Perfect Pair
I’ve had several iterations of pasta and peas growing up. My mother would make them either red or white, meaning with or without tomato sauce.
We always used some sort of shell shaped pasta, because the peas pop right into the shell and make the perfect bite.
For a white pasta and peas, you can saute a little onion or garlic, add the peas and some parmesan to the pasta, and call it a day.
For the red version, my mom used leftover tomato sauce, and tossed it in the pasta and peas.
For this version, I brought things up a notch with pancetta. Fatty pork goes so well with peas, whether it’s pancetta, bacon, proscuitto or even American ham.
More Spring Pasta Recipes
- Ramp Pasta
- Fava Bean Ravioli
- Pasta with Mushrooms and Prosciutto
- Fregola and Clams
- Gnocchi with Mushrooms, Peas and Favas
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Pasta with Peas and Pancetta will be your new favorite spring pasta dish. Sweet peas compliment the salty pancetta and cheese so well in this simple recipe.
- 8oz pipe rigate or shell pasta
- 4oz pancetta or slab bacon, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 2 small spring onions (white parts only) or 1 large shallot, diced
- 1 cup English peas, fresh or frozen
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- 2 tbsp butter, sliced
- 1–2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
- Crisp pancetta. Add pancetta to a large nonstick pan at room temperature. If your pancetta is on the lean side, add a couple teaspoons of olive oil to the pan. Turn heat to medium. Slowly render the fat and crisp pancetta, stirring occasionally for about 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl, reserving fat in pan.
- Saute onion. Add onion to pan and cook over medium to medium-low heat for approximately 4-6 minutes or until translucent and softened. Add a few teaspoons of additional oil, as needed, depending on how much fat your pancetta renders. Season with salt.
- Boil pasta. While pancetta cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season aggressively with salt. Cook pasta until 1-2 minutes short of al dente. Drain reserving one cup of pasta water.
- Cook peas. Add peas to pan with onions. Spoon in about 2 tablespoons of pasta cooking water. Bring to a simmer and cook until peas are tender with a slight bite, about 2 minutes if fresh and 1-2 minutes if frozen.
- Add pasta. Add pasta and reserved pancetta to pan with the peas. Drizzle in 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil, as desired. Add cheese, butter and a couple tablespoons of pasta water to pan. Stir continuously over medium to medium-low heat until butter and cheese have emulsified with the water to form a sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I like a healthy amount of pepper in this dish. Add additional pasta water, as needed, to adjust consistency of the sauce.
- Serve. Transfer to serving bowls. Top with additional pepper, maldon salt or grated cheese, as desired. Enjoy.
You can easily double this recipe if you prefer to cook a full pound of pasta.
Thick cut pancetta or bacon are preferred for this dish, but you can use thinly sliced varieties if that’s all you can find. Just adjust the cooking time, as needed.
If you cannot find a spring onion or shallot, use any white or yellow onion.
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Saute
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: 1/3 of pasta
- Calories: 630
- Sugar: 7g
- Sodium: 660mg
- Fat: 27g
- Saturated Fat: 12g
- Unsaturated Fat: 15g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 74g
- Fiber: 7g
- Protein: 23g
- Cholesterol: 50mg
Keywords: pasta with peas and pancetta, pasta with peas, pasta with peas and bacon