This is a very simple pasta dish which can be whipped up quickly. In the Spring, sweet peas in their plump pods beckon after a long winter. Out of pea season, frozen peas make a good substitute. I always have a bag of peas and a package of pancetta in the freezer. In a pinch, I can whip up this dish in no time. Children adore it and everyone asks the recipe. The sweet peas pop in your mouth while the pancetta makes the dish feel more substantial. For vegetarians, the pancetta can be left out.
Pasta con piselli (pasta with peas)
I make this with a short hollow pasta like ditalini or bow tie pasta (farfalle). Children love both but very young children can eat ditalini with a spoon which is more manageable.
For vegetarians, leave out the meat. For gluten-free guests, use gluten-free pasta. For dairy-free diners, eliminate the cheese. For illustrated step-by-step instruction, click here.
40 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
120 grams pancetta, cubed or thinly sliced (can substitute prosciutto, cubed ham or bacon)
2 spring/green/salad onion or 1 onion, finely chopped
350 grams peas, podded (can use frozen)
350 grams ditalini or tubetti (can substitute farfalle pasta or broken up spaghetti)
Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese, finely grated for serving
In a large pot, add 5 litres of water and 50 grams of salt. Bring the water to boil.
Place the olive oil, pancetta and onion into a frying pan and heat over medium heat. Cook stirring until the fat renders from the pancetta, about 2 minutes.
Add the peas and 50 mls of water to the pan and cover. Stir occasionally until the peas are cooked through, about 2 minutes for small peas and up to 5 minutes for larger peas. Remove from the heat and leave uncovered.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for the time indicated on the package minus one minute. Drain the pasta and add it to the peas, stirring through. Turn the heat on to medium and cook the pasta, stirring for a minute or two. Add a bit of pasta water if dry. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over, sprinkle on some cheese and serve.
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