Pasta with Peas Recipe

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A simple but addictive meal your kids will devour, Pasta with Peas is comfort food designed for busy weeknights.

Pasta with Peas featured image above

Cooking pasta is a lot like Jurassic Park. (Just go with me on this one.) Sometimes we load it up with so many toppings and ingredients because we COULD, never stopping to ask ourselves whether or not we SHOULD. (See what I did there!)

This recipe for Pasta and Peas bucks that worrying trend by keeping it simple yet savory. It was originally known as Pasta e Piselli, a traditional dish from Naples, Italy (a long way away from Jurassic Park, admittedly). There’s still work involved (well, work for the blender, that is) but the flavor is predominantly “pea” with a bit of garlic and herbs serving as support. My kids also appreciate this one because what they see is what they get. They can be a suspicious lot and can sometimes complain when met with an ingredient they don’t recognize or a sauce that features so many toppings they fear it will not really taste like anything at all. They are indeed suspicious and yet oh so wise.

I generally try to keep my pasta dishes on the simple side for all these reasons, like my Orzo Pasta recipe or the one for Baked Feta. Of course, I’m not above loading in those ingredients but they have to complement each other, like my Oriecchette Pasta. Pasta politics aside, you must try this Pasta with Peas and see why it’s been a staple of Naples all these years!

Ingredients //

  • 4 oz. short pasta (e.g., fusilli or penne)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan, grated
  • handful fresh basil
  • pinch of salt and black pepper
Pasta with Peas ingredients

How to Make Pasta with Peas // The Steps

Step 1: Cook the pasta al dente in a pot of salted water according to package instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.

Pasta with Peas step 1

Step 2: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on MEDIUM. Add the chopped onions. Cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute until fragrant.

Pasta with Peas step 2

Step 3: Add 1 1/2 cups peas to the skillet. Combine with 1 cup of pasta water. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the peas are cooked.

Pasta with Peas step 3

Step 4: Transfer the sauce to another bowl and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Pass the sauce through a strainer back to the skillet.

Pasta with Peas step 4

Step 5: Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the pea sauce and season with salt and black pepper. Add more pasta water if the sauce is too thick.

Pasta with Peas step 5

Step 6: Add the remaining peas, and Parmesan cheese. Stir well until combined. Transfer the pasta with peas onto plates and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Pasta with Peas step 6

Top Tips For Perfect Pasta with Peas //

  • The type of pasta you use is entirely up to you, though it’s recommended you go with a short noodle: tubes, elbows, spirals… you want something you won’t have to twirl and can instead scoop or stab along with the peas.
  • Don’t skip the step in which you saute the onions separately. Doing so adds flavor.
  • Go for high-end ingredients, like bronze extruded pasta. It tastes much better than run-of-the-mill stuff, plus its rough surface means the sauce will cling to it better.
  • The same thing holds true for the cheese. Buy fresh Parmesan and grate it yourself. In a meal with so few ingredients, you’ll want to make sure those ingredients are of the utmost quality.
  • Don’t rinse the pasta; doing so will rid the noodles of the starch that will help the sauce cling to them.
Pasta with Peas step featured image below

FAQs //

What if I used regular water instead of the pasta water?

The pasta water is used for the sauce because it will have retained some of the flavor from the pasta. Regular water will, well… water down your final product. The pasta water will also have a bit of starch in it, which, as I’ve mentioned, helps the sauce cling to the noodle.

Can I use fresh peas instead of frozen?

Of course. And you won’t need to cook them for long. In fact, you could probably just add them directly to the blender without having to cook them first. For those you intend on adding later, you may want to blanch them first (i.e., boil them for 2 minutes then cool with ice water). It really depends on the consistency you prefer.

What can I do if my meal is too dry?

You can either add more pasta water (hopefully, you reserved a lot of it) or drizzle with olive oil. If you don’t mind a bit of cream, you can add a splash of that too.

What else can I add to this recipe for more taste?

Hit up your spice rack. Red pepper flakes or fresh herbs such as parsley or mint should do the trick.

Which other cheeses would go well here?

If Parm isn’t your thing, try Romano. If you want to stay clear of all those hard cheeses, I find goat’s cheese to be a wonderful and creamy addition to any pasta dish.

Pasta with Peas step featured image below

Serving Suggestions //

Pair the pasta with another Italian specialty: Caprese Skewers (well, the ‘Caprese’ part is Italian; the ‘skewers’ part is probably an Americanized amendment). You can also serve up a hot bowl of Minestrone Soup, a citrusy Mediterranean dish perfect for cold winter nights. If you want to keep it green, make some Grilled Asparagus. Then, add some crusty bread and maybe a glass of your favorite Italian red and you’ve got yourself sorted!

How to Prep and Store Pasta with Peas //

If you would like to make the pea sauce beforehand, do so. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If you have any leftovers, let them cool completely. They, too, can go in an airtight container then kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. To warm it back up, you can use your microwave or stovetop.

Pasta with Peas step featured image below

Pasta with Peas

A simple but addictive meal your kids will devour, Pasta with Peas is comfort food designed for busy weeknights.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • 4 oz. short pasta (e.g., fusilli or penne)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan grated
  • handful fresh basil
  • pinch of salt and black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Cook the pasta al dente in a pot of salted water according to package instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on MEDIUM. Add the chopped onions. Cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute until fragrant.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups peas to the skillet. Combine with 1 cup of pasta water. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the peas are cooked.
  • Transfer the sauce to an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Pass the sauce through a strain back to the skillet.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the pea sauce and season with salt and black pepper. Add more pasta water if the sauce is too thick.
  • Add the remaining peas, and Parmesan cheese. Stir well until combined. Transfer the pasta with peas onto plates and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Notes

  • Go for high-end ingredients, like bronze extruded pasta. It tastes much better than run-of-the-mill stuff, plus its rough surface means sauces will cling to it better.
  • The same thing holds true for the cheese. Buy fresh Parmesan and grate it yourself. In a meal with so few ingredients, you’ll want to make sure those few ingredients are of the utmost quality.
  • Don’t rinse the pasta; doing so will rid the noodles of the starch that will help the sauce cling to them.
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