Pasta and Peas

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Creamy Pasta and Peas is our go-to for a quick dinner! Shells and peas are tossed in a light, garlicky cream sauce and dotted with salty pancetta for an easy 30 minute meal.

If you love easy pasta recipes with few ingredients, you’ll also want to try this Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta.

Pasta and Peas: Done in a Flash

Pasta and peas stirred together by a wooden spoon.

On busy weeknights, you can’t beat a quick pasta dinner. It’s something I know the whole family will eat without complaint, and I won’t be left with a pile of dishes to clean up after.

Add a veggie to the pasta, and you’ve got a complete meal ready to go in minutes. We’ve done it before with Creamy Mushroom and Leek Pasta and One Pot Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli, but Pasta with Peas is the quickest and easiest version of this combo we’ve made yet. The creamy sauce is made while the pasta is boiling, so everything is done in less than 30 minutes.

Reasons Why You’ll Love It:

  • It’s super versatile: You can adapt this recipe based on the ingredients you have on hand and your family’s preferences.
  • Great for picky kids and discerning adults: My kids will eat any version of noodles and sauce, so this one’s an automatic win for them. And for the adults? The Parmesan garlic sauce and hint of crispy pancetta make it feel like you’re eating something from a nice restaurant.
  • It’s fast. Did we mention it’s quick? And easy? Yeah, I think we covered that.
Pasta with peas and pancetta in a blue rimmed bowl.

Ingredients Needed

  • Olive oil, for sauteeing
  • Pancetta– You can usually find this in the deli section of your grocery store. Look for packaged diced pancetta. Chopped bacon or diced ham can also work.
  • Garlic– You’ll want at least one big clove, but use up to three for a stronger garlic flavor.
  • Chicken broth– I keep Better than Bouillon‘s low sodium chicken broth stocked at all times. It’s super handy for recipes that only need a small amount of broth, like this one.
  • Heavy cream– Feel free to use half and half if you prefer, but heavy cream will give you the richest, silkiest sauce.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese– Just a touch of Parmesan adds a little extra nutty umami flavor to the sauce. Of course, we also like to sprinkle a little more on top of the pasta once it’s plated.
  • Pasta– Shells or orecchiette provide the perfect pocket for the peas and pancetta, but you can substitute other short pastas, like rotini, penne, or ditalini if you prefer.
  • Peas– I use frozen peas, which we usually always have stocked in the freezer.
Bowls with dry pasta shells, diced pancetta, peas, chicken broth, parmesan cheese, and cream.

How to Make Pasta with Peas and Pancetta

  1. Cook the pasta al dente. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. In the last minute of cooking time, toss in the frozen peas. Drain the peas and pasta. If they’re done before the sauce is completed, toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, using a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cream, and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook at a gentle simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the Parmesan, allowing to melt completely. Season to taste with salt and pepper, as needed.
  4. Stir the pasta and peas into the cream sauce, stirring to coat. Serve immediately with extra Parmesan if desired.

Take Your Pasta from Good to Great

  • Salt the pasta water. You’ll see this in every single pasta recipe we make. Salting the water infuses the pasta with flavor and makes a big difference in the final product! I usually don’t measure, but add about a heaping Tablespoon of Kosher salt to a large pot of water.
  • Cook to al dente. Al dente means the pasta is tender, but still has a bit of chew to it. It shouldn’t be mushy or overly soft.
  • Mind your sauce. You’ll know the cream sauce is at the right thickness when you run a spoon across the bottom and the sauce slowly runs back in to fill the space.
  • Get a pepper grinder. I finish most pasta dishes with a little fresh cracked pepper. It adds such a nice flavor pop!
Wooden spoon scooping up pasta and peas.

Variations on Pasta and Peas

  • Either bacon or prosciutto can be used instead of pancetta. If you’re using bacon, be sure to drain all but a teaspoon of fat from the pan before proceeding. Prosciutto can be chopped or town into smaller pieces then fried like the pancetta.
  • Don’t like peas? Leave them out! Or try using broccoli instead.
  • Make this vegetarian by leaving out the pancetta and substituting the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
Blue rimmed white bowl filled with creamy shells and peas.

More of our Favorite Pasta Dinners

Can’t get enough pasta in your life? Try these other favorites:

Blue rimmed white bowl filled with creamy shells and peas.

Pasta and Peas

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Pasta and Peas is a quick 30 minute meal featuring shells in a light garlic cream sauce with peas and salty pancetta.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces medium pasta shells
  • 6 ounces (about half a bag) frozen peas
  • Olive oil, to coat the pan
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh cracked pepper, for serving

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta al dente. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. In the last minute of cooking time, toss in the frozen peas. Drain the peas and pasta. If they're done before the sauce is completed, toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, using a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cream, and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook at a gentle simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the Parmesan, allowing to melt completely. Season to taste with salt and pepper, as needed.
  4. Stir the pasta and peas into the cream sauce, stirring to coat. Serve immediately with extra Parmesan and fresh cracked pepper if desired.

Notes

Store leftover pasta in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave with a splash of extra cream or chicken broth.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 581Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 299mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 11gSugar: 13gProtein: 19g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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