What was my favorite childhood dish you ask? Without hesitation it was Pasta e Peas! As a child, I naturally thought that Pasta e Peas was Calabrese, something typical of the south; however almost every region in Italy has a pasta or rice piatto with peas. Some preparations are more of a minestra or soup, while others are considered a pasta.
Pasta e Piselli can be prepared at a moments notice, the ingredient list is simple and can be kept on hand at all times. Any short tubular pasta such as tubetti or ditali, as well as conghigliette, or even broken spaghetti can be used. My family’s rendition is meatless, often however you will find preparations that include sautéing diced pancetta along with the onion. The distinctive flavor of this dish is developed in stages by following the basic steps outlined in the recipe. I rarely use anything but fresh ingredients, however frozen peas are an excellent product and should be considered whenever peas are called for. The sautéing of the chopped onion, seasoned simply with salt and pepper during the early stage of the cooking process creates the foundation. Adding some of the pasta cooking liquid gives the dish a more fluid body; depending upon how much is added Paste e Piselli becomes a soup. Chopped Italian parsley brings an element of freshness which pairs nicely with the peas. Fresh mint can substituted or combined with the parsley. If using fresh mint add at the last stage as chopped mint tends to discolor.
- 1 medium sized onion chopped
- 3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 lb. dried short pasta
- Kosher salt
- 1½ cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a medium sized heavy sauce pan over medium heat, I use a Le Creuset. Add the chopped onions, allow the onions to cook in the sauce pan for 5 minutes without stirring, season with salt & pepper, and stir. Continue to cook the onions until lightly golden brown, stirring as needed so the onions brown evenly. The entire process should take about 15 minutes, but may vary depending upon the pan and level of the flame on your stovetop.
- Once the onions are ready, turn off the heat and add the defrosted peas, stirring well with the seasoned onions to incorporate the flavors. This can be done earlier in the day and set aside or refrigerated for the next day. If refrigerating, take out before the final step and warm lightly.
- Bring 6 quarts of cold water to a boil, salt the water, add the pasta and stir well. Adjust the cooking time recommended on the box as you want the pasta to be al dente, almost a bit undercooked. The pasta will cook further once added to the peas; for example if the directions recommend 10 minutes, I suggest a cooking time of 7 minutes.
- If draining the pasta into a strainer placed in your sink, reserve about 2 cups of the pasta cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and add to the warm pea & onion mixture, stirring well to incorporate. Add a bit of the pasta water to loosen up the dish, season with about ½ cup of the chopped parsley. Stir well to combine, add more pasta liquid to your taste.
- Serve immediately, passing the reserved chopped parsley to serve as a garnish table side. The pasta may be reheated the next day.
Thanks for reminding me of this much loved pasta dish! Forgot how simple and delicious this childhood favorite was. Will be sure to make it a regular in our meal planning!
We both ate our share of this, I hope the family enjoys it.
…anche il mio piatto preferito da bambina, ma la versione della mia mamma veneta era “Risi e Bisi”
Si Cristina, nel nord sarebbe risi e bissi, grazie.
What a delicious option for vegetarian and kosher eating! Thank you for posting this recipe. Looking forward to preparing it and enjoying it with my family.
It is just perfect for both vegetarians and those observing kashrut. Since it is pareve, it can also be used as a first course with a meat entree. I hope your family enjoys it, thank you Amy!
Barbara Ricigliano says
I’ve made this many times over the years; very simple and quick. It’s a good Italian peasant dish. I love it with freshly grated cheese on top.
Barbara, I’m so pleased that you commented. Scott always preferred your dishes to mine.
Frank Schramko says
I’m Gary Botwinick’s (your sisters law partner) Brother-in-Law. I love the Italian cooking and love some of the dishes that you posted…I’m definitely going to try to whip up a few of these!
Frank,thank you for subscribing to La Bella Sorella! Look for a new post each Monday and please stay in touch.
I always search for authentic Italian recipes being Italian and what I remembered my nona cooked. I remember the taste and so I can detect what must be authentic and not something in a recipe odd! Thank you fro your recipe!
Thank you Lauren for your kind words. I do strive to replicate some of the dishes that I grew up and this has always been a favorite of mine. I look forward to you following La Bella Sorella.
K O'S says
Friends made this for me and my family back in the 90’s. The only difference was an addition of chopped garlic, maybe topped with Parmesan. So very delicious!
Each town and family has a slightly different interpretation of this classic dish. I am so glad that the post brought back memories for you. Thank you for taking the time to post a comment.