Once the weather starts to warm up, I know it’s time for one of my all time favorites: peas pasta. It’s spring-forward peas pasta done right. It’s creamy, fresh, cheesy, umami forward, and full of spring goodness thanks to the bright pop of green peas.

Peas in pasta often have a bad reputation. Peas are one of those vegetables that is easy to throw into anything so it kind of gets defaulted to being a not special vegetable. But peas are a sign of spring. They taste bright and fresh and green. Peas are perfect!

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Why peas pasta?

The combination of poppy sweet peas, crispy pancetta, and creamy sauce with perfectly done noodles is perfection.

Peas pasta is a fast and easy dish that is all reward for minimal effort. If you’re a seasoned cook, good at timing or prep, you can make this entire pasta in 15 minutes flat. If you’re a beginner pasta maker, I recommend making the sauce first, then cooking the pasta so you’re not rushing. Even then, this is a quick and easy meal that will have you feeling like a pasta pro.

peas pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

Ingredients for peas pasta

  • High quality pasta. Splurge on some good bronze extruded pasta. The price difference between high quality and low quality pasta is usually just a couple of dollars, but the quality difference is huge. Look for something with a sandy texture to it.
  • Garlic. There’s a lot of garlic in this recipe. Over the years I’ve found that local expensive $1 garlic from tastes far better than the $1 for 3 pack from who knows where. This is a small splurge that you deserve.
  • Pancetta. Italian pork belly that’s bee cured with slat and pepper. It’s fatty, smoky, and adds an amazing amount of flavor and texture when rendered into crispy little nuggets. You can find it in the deli department: ask for them to cut it into a 1/4”-1/2” slice then cube it at home.
  • Peas. I like to use frozen peas because they’re sweet, tiny, and full of flavor (more on that below) but if you get your hands on some super fresh, super sweet peas, you can use them here too. But if I were you, I’d be eating those fresh sweet peas right out of the pod.
  • Cheese. You need a good quality aged cheese. These can be found at most higher end grocery stores. Our go-to cheeses for pasta are parmigiano reggiano or pecorino toscana. As long as it’s aged and meltable though, you’re good.
  • Cream. You need to use full fat cream for this recipe – milk won’t reduce into a sauce and you’ll probably end up with something resembling soup. Cream is going to give you that silky mouthfeel that is buttery and luxurious.
  • White Wine. We almost always choose whites for sauces. You can sub out the wine for low sodium chicken broth if you need to be alcohol free for health reasons because burning off the alcohol is a myth. Don’t skip it otherwise though: alcohol has been proven to enhance other flavors, which is why vodka sauce works so well.

garlic and pancetta | www.iamafoodblog.com

Fresh vs frozen peas

Peas are classic spring vegetable. They come in season in spring and there’s something definitely romantic about eating fresh peas in the spring. But the truth is, frozen peas are actually better. Like a lot of things out there, peas have a peak ripeness and frozen peas are flash frozen right at their peak.

Frozen peas are tiny, sweet crisp pops for spring flavor. Don’t get me wrong, fresh peas are delicious but if you’re at the tail end of the season or the fresh peas you buy are too old, you end up with giant, grainy, starchy in the shell peas. To be honest, because there is such a huge market for frozen peas, the best and brightest peas go to the freezer first.

peas pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

The best way to use frozen peas is frozen

They’re already flash steamed before being flash frozen so they’re basically ready to go. Just let them defrost a bit before stirring into your pasta. Or, if you want them very warm, add them to your pot of pasta right before you drain. Definitely don’t over cook them (or cook them at all) because they’ll loose their sweetness and signature pea pop.

How to make peas pasta

If you have all your ingredients prepared, you can make the sauce in the time it takes for your pasta to cook. If you’re not a comfortable cook or you are making a really fast pasta shape, you might want to fill a pot with water, add salt, and hold it just below a boil while you make the sauce, then make your pasta afterwards. That way, it’s a slow, relaxing, wine filled cooking experience instead of a frantic ultra-multitasking-never-a-moment-to-rest experience.

  1. Render the pancetta. Chop the pancetta up into 1/4” strips, then drizzle a little olive oil into a pan. Turn the burner up to medium high, and when the guanciale starts sizzling, turn the heat down to low and render for 2-3 minutes. Flip each piece over after a minute or two (if you’re feeling lazy, just give it a stir instead).
  2. Add the garlic. And the minced garlic once the pancetta is crisp. Give it a stir and cook for 1-2 minutes until soft, but not overly brown.
  3. Add the wine. Deglaze the pan with wine and turn up to medium high and reduce the wine by half.
  4. Add the cream. Keep everything on a simmer and reduce by half until everything comes together in a sauce.
  5. Add the cheese. Finally, turn the heat down to low (or take the pan off the heat entirely if you are going to hold the sauce) and add the grated cheese and a generous amount of  black pepper. Whisk for a minute or so to make sure everything is emulsified, taste and adjust seasoning if needed, then your sauce is ready for the pasta.

pasta sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to sauce the pasta

If you’re wondering why your pasta never tastes as good as restaurant pasta it’s because saucing pasta properly is the key to making a good pasta dish. To properly sauce:

  1. Cook the pasta to 1 minute before the al dente time indicated on the package. If you prefer your pasta on the firmer side, cook it to 2-3 minutes before the time on the package.
  2. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta into a colander or better yet, use a pasta scoop, and transfer the pasta directly into your sauce.
  3. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce for a final minute. A nonstick skillet is your best friend for this step. If the skillet starts to look a little dry and not as creamy, add pasta water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, stirring. Use silicone coated tongs or spatulas to gently toss the noodles as they cook, and you have perfectly sauced pasta!

pasta with peas | www.iamafoodblog.com

Tips and tricks for the best pasta

  • Take your time to reduce the wine and cream. Even if your pasta is already done, it can wait while you reduce. Reducing the wine properly is the difference between a complex tasting sauce, and a sauce that tastes like wine. Reducing the cream properly is the difference between a milky soup and an actual sauce that will cling to your pasta.
  • Reduce the wine and cream separately. You might be tempted to just throw all the liquids in together and reduce them at the same time, but the wine will never reduce properly if you do that and your sauce will end up tasting a lot like wine.
  • Salt your pasta water. Salting your pasta water infuses the pasta with salt and brings out the taste of the wheat. I don’t think the pasta water has to be as salty as the Meditteranean (and who has tasted that, anyway?) but if your pasta tastes plain, it’s because the pasta water wasn’t salty enough.
  • Don’t rinse your pasta. The starches on the cooked pasta allow sauce to cling to the noodles and forms a stronger, more robust sauce. If your homecooked pastas always seem a little wetter than the ones you get at restaurants and the sauce slides off, this is usually the reason why.
  • Finish in the sauce. Cook the pasta one minute before al dente and toss it in the sauce for that final minute before serving. Plain pasta with the sauce ladled on top firmly belongs in the 90s.
  • Make some extra pancetta to snack on. Just drain the little cubes of rendered pancetta onto some paper towels and you have tiny crunchy pops of heaven. Chef’s treat!

peas pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

What to serve with peas pasta?

If you want to make an occasion out of this, you can serve this pea pasta up with some antipasti. Our favorites include:

peas pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

If you’re looking for other dishes with peas:

That’s it! Spring time pea pasta, just waiting to join you at dinner!
xoxo steph

peas pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

Peas Pasta

Creamy, fresh, cheesy, umami forward, and full of spring goodness with pancetta, wine, and garlic.
Serves 3
4.34 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 8 oz pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz pancetta diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine Italian preferred
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese finely grated, about 2oz
  • 1 cup frozen peas if fresh, see notes

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta 1 minute shy of al dente in a large pot of salted water, according to package directions.
    cooking pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • While the pasta is cooking, crisp up the pancetta. Heat the olive oil and pancetta over medium heat until golden and crisp, 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    crisping pancetta | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes.
    garlic and pancetta | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Deglaze with the wine and cook until the wine is reduced by half, 2-3 minutes.
    reduced wine | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the cream and reduce again by half, stirring occasionally to form a glossy, emulsified sauce.
    garlic and pancetta cream sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Reduce the heat to low or remove from the heat and add the cheese, whisking until the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper.
    pasta sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and add to the pan along with the frozen peas. Turn the heat up to medium high and gently toss pasta for 1 minute or until every strand or piece of pasta is properly coated. Add pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed.
    pasta with peas | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Serve immediately, with extra cheese, if desired.
    peas pasta | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

If using fresh peas, cook them in the pasta water until tender (1-2 minutes). 

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Peas Pasta
Amount Per Serving
Calories 655 Calories from Fat 259
% Daily Value*
Fat 28.8g44%
Saturated Fat 10.2g64%
Cholesterol 125mg42%
Sodium 1123mg49%
Potassium 494mg14%
Carbohydrates 59g20%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 3.6g4%
Protein 33g66%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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