Pasta e piselli combines small ditalini pasta, sweet peas, and a few other simple ingredients, all swimming in a savory broth. Simple, affordable, and so-yummy classic Italian dish is one you'll find yourself craving again and again.
About pasta e piselli recipe
Pasta e piselli is a comforting Italian dish that brings together pasta and peas (that's how the name translates itself).
Like many other traditional Italian recipes, pasta and peas came from the times of Cucina povera ("the poor kitchen"). This cooking approach developed when Italian people had to create recipes using the few, locally sourced ingredients they had available at that time.
Just as Pasta e Lenticchi is a dish made with small ditalini pasta and lentils, Pasta e piselli uses the same ditalini pasta but with sweet peas, instead of lentils.
I like how the peas add sweetness to this savory dish, balancing the taste and adding extra nutrients.
This easy pasta recipe is a great example of how Italian cuisine can transform very simple ingredients into a flavorful and satisfying meal.
Peas used in the recipe, are a springtime vegetable in Italy, which emphasizes seasonality and the use of local, fresh ingredients.
You can make it a soup by adding more broth and enjoy it with a slice of fresh bread.
The small pasta shape makes it easier to scoop up both pasta and peas together. This dish is great on its own as a first course or can be served as a side dish with chicken, beef, or fish.
Recipe ingredients (all available in the US)
This is the overview of recommended ingredients. You can find the quantities in the recipe card below.
- Pasta: I used ditalini pasta (Barilla brand). You can also use small shells, elbows, or orzo.
- Green Peas: I like to use fresh peas whenever possible (whole foods often have fresh bagged sweet peas). You can also use frozen peas, which are more convenient and easy to find at any grocery store.
- Onion and garlic: They both add flavor to the dish. You can skip garlic if you do not have any on hand.
- Olive oil: You will need some oil to saute the onion and I also like to drizzle the dish with extra virgin olive oil for serving.
- Broth: I used my homemade chicken stock. You can use store-bought chicken broth or even water.
- Salt and pepper: add at the very end to taste.
- Cheese: You can use freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese.
How to make pasta e piselli
1) Chop the onion finely and mince the garlic. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or a deep skillet. Add diced onion and saute it for about 3-4 minutes until it becomes translucent, but not browned. Now, add minced garlic and saute for another minute or until fragrant. Stir it often to make sure it doesn't burn.
2) Add ditalini pasta and toast it for a few minutes over low-medium heat. I love toasting pasta, as it becomes nutty and absorbs all the delicious flavors in the pot.
3) Now, you can stir in fresh or frozen sweet peas.
4) The liquid needs to cover the pasta and peas completely. Bring everything to a boil and simmer it over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Do not forget to stir it occasionally to prevent pasta from sticking. Once the pasta is al dente, take it off the heat. Add salt and black pepper to taste. If you like the dish to be soup-like, add a little extra water or broth at the end.
4) Serve pasta and peas in a deep bowl. Drizzle the dish with extra virgin olive oil, garnish it with grated Parmesan cheese on top, and and some fresh parsley.
- It is better to use small shell pasta to match the size of the peas.
- Toast the past before adding liquids, for a rich and nutty flavor.
- Stir the pasta to prevent it from sticking. I often cook small pasta and have noticed it tends to stick to the bottom of the pan if I do not stir it occasionally.
- While you can easily use, water broth will add more flavor to the dish.
- I give the general amount of salt and pepper to my liking, but you should always taste your dish as you cook and adjust seasonings to your taste.
How to store and reheat
If you have leftovers, let them cool down first and refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Reheat the dish gently in a small saucer pan over low heat. If needed, add a few tablespoons of water or broth and more seasonings.
While the classic version of this traditional Italian dish includes pasta and peas, you may also enjoy a few variations of this dish:
- With protein: add diced pancetta (so-called Italian bacon) or crumbled Italian sausage for a meatier version.
- Vegan or vegetarian: You can use vegan cheese and vegetable stock to make the dish. You can also add extra veggies, such as diced bell peppers, zucchini, and carrots for extra nutrients.
- Fresh herbs and spices: add some chopped herbs such as fresh basil or parsley. If you like spicier foods, try adding some red pepper flakes.
- Creamy pasta: I often make this recipe creamy, by adding a few tablespoons of cream cheese, ricotta, or heavy cream at the very end.
- Tomato-based: Add crushed tomatoes or tomato paste for rich, tomato flavor.
More traditional Italian recipes
Pasta e Piselli (Italian Pasta and Peas)
- 1 Large or medium pot
- 2 cups (200g) ditalini pasta, or other small shell variety
- 2 cups (300g) sweet peas, fresh or frozen
- ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2.5 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
- 4 Tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving
- In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add finely chopped onion and saute until translucent for about 3-4 minutes. Now, add minced garlic and saute it for another minute or until fragrant.
- Add 1 cup of ditalini pasta to the pot and toast it lightly for about one minute over low-medium heat, stirring it frequently.
- Stir in peas and pour in the chicken broth. Bring it to a boil.
- Let the dish simmer for about 10 minutes uncovered, until the pasta is al dente and the broth is absorbed. If it becomes too dry or you like it to be soupy, you can add more broth.
- Give it a taste and add salt, pepper to taste. Serve hot in bowls, garnished with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.