Pasta e Piselli (Pasta with Peas) is my favorite one-pot meal from Naples! It's ready in less than 30 minutes! Add bacon if you wish, and don't miss the video!
Pasta is my life. I publish other recipes to keep everyone interested, but I secretly wonder, "Can I post another pasta dish now?"
I vote yes. So, behold, Pasta e Piselli (Pasta with Peas), one of my all-time favorite meals.
They're each a cross between soup and a pasta dish.Pasta e Piselli features onions but no garlic, baby peas, small pasta, and equal parts Parmesan and Romano cheeses. I think it's the Pecorino Romano (affiliate link) that takes it over the top.
Mom used to make this pasta and peas with bacon, but we've kept it meatless for several years now. We don't miss it, since there's plenty of flavor going on here.
If you're looking for a fabulous vegetarian meal, this is it! But, see the recipe notes for instructions to add bacon.
In case you're wondering, I love all of these one-pot pasta dishes that I grew up eating and now make for my family. But if I had to choose my absolute favorite...it's Pasta e Piselli (Pasta with Peas) for the win!
(Recipe Source: Adapted from Mom's version of this dish, which she learned from Nonna. Originally published on February 10, 2016, and republished now with a video, updated photos and text and a new recipe card.)
Here's the old photo. What a difference a few years makes!
With my Pasta & Sauces collection, even a beginner can cook like an Italian nonna!
Pasta e Piselli (Peas)
- 1 medium white onion (peeled & chopped)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 13-ounce package frozen baby peas
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 4 ½ cups hot water
- 1 pound ditalini or other small pasta (from a box)
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
- red pepper flakes for serving (optional)
- Peel and chop your onion. Heat the oil in a large pot on medium-high. Add the onions to the pot and stir to coat them with oil. Cook the onions for five minutes or until they're soft, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. While the onions are cooking, you can grate your cheeses if needed.
- Add the frozen peas, salt and pepper to the pot and stir to combine. Let the peas cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. They should be almost fully cooked.
- Add your water to the pot and increase the heat to high. Cover the pot with a lid and let the water come to a boil. When the water is boiling, add your pasta and stir it to prevent sticking. Lower the heat slightly and cook the pasta, uncovered, until it's al dente, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot. When the pasta is cooked, do NOT drain the water.
- Turn off the heat and stir in your Parmesan and Romano. Taste to see if you need any extra salt. (You may not, since the Romano is salty.)
- Serve with extra Parmesan (or Romano) and red pepper flakes at the table. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- I like to use a white onion here, since it's more mild than the yellow or red ones.
- I always use baby peas, since they're more sweet than regular peas.
- If you want to make this with meat, you can add chopped bacon or pancetta when the onions are soft. Use 3 strips of thick bacon or 4 strips of thin bacon.
- Use boxed pasta for this recipe. We haven't tested it with homemade pasta, which cooks much faster and may not provide enough time for the water to absorb.