Pasta with Sweet Pea Sauce & Pancetta

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Eat your peas!

Pasta with green pea sauce 1

Buon giorno!

How many times in our youth did we hear our mothers say “Eat your peas”? How many times did we say this to our children? Well this week’s post, PASTA WITH SWEET PEA SAUCE & PANCETTA, makes all the fear and loathing disappear. Serve this one to your household pea-phobes, and I guarantee they won’t need coaxing. This is one dish that is difficult to stop eating and is so lovely to present, with its vivid green sauce which reminds us all of the garden.

What makes this dish so different? The sauce in this dish brings to the table all the nutritional value we expect from green peas: antioxidants Vitamin C and Vitamin E along with the mineral Zinc. So what? The difference here is that you never know you are eating your peas. Instead, your pasta is dressed with the most beautiful and flavorful sweet green pea puree seasoned with onions, garlic, pancetta,and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The piece de resistance in this dish is the pancetta which flavors the sauce, and then is removed and reserved to be sprinkled on top of the finished pasta at the very end. This gives it the final level of flavor without which it would not make your taste buds go “whoa” when it hits. The sweetness of the peas coupled with the savory nature of the pancetta is sure to hit your crazy button. This dish will  provoke the sounds of “what the—” when they take the first bite.

A little history:  There is an old Tuscan side dish made with sweet peas called “Piselli All’Olio” – which includes the use of pancetta, onion and even a little sugar. Usually fresh peas are used. Sounds good –but then we’d still have to look at the peas and well – you know – peas are just peas. So why not take this old Tuscan side and make it a sauce that is so beautiful in color and so sweet so as to be almost irresistible? Well – that’s what I was thinking. So here it is!

This is an easy dish to make and is so delicious –you’ll have trouble backing away from the table. So why wait?

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Serves: 4

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes


1 lb Penne Pasta or Fusilli Pugliese – make according to package directions – reserving a couple of spoons of pasta water

2 c. frozen peas – cooked & drained ( if you have fresh peas – all the better – boil them in milk until tender)

1/4 lb pancetta – chopped (Pancetta is Italian bacon – uncured – and can be found at most grocery story deli counters)

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Large sweet onion – chopped

2 Fresh Garlic Cloves – chopped

1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves

1/4 c. Whole milk – warmed

Kosher Salt & Fresh Pepper to taste

1 c. Ricotta

1/2 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or Grana Padano cheese

1/2 c. Whole milk – warmed (2nd)

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter


Cook pasta according to package directions and reserve a couple of large tablespoons of pasta water in case you need to add moisture towards the end.

Cook your pancetta in the olive oil in a large pot or large saute pan until crisp.

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Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and reserve to add at the end.

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Add the chopped onion and garlic to the same pan and saute until tender – about 5 minutes.

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Now add the thyme.

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Add the cooked peas to the pan and cook about 2 minutes, stirring to coat the peas completely.

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Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Add the  1/2 c. warm milk to the puree and blend.

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Taste for seasoning and add some Kosher Salt and fresh pepper to taste.

Transfer the puree back to the saute pan and add the ricotta and the grated cheese.

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Mix together, add the remaining warm milk, and warm over medium heat for just a couple of minutes until heated through.

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Add the pasta water if needed. You can also add a little more warm milk to get it to the saucy consistency that you like.

Add the butter and mix in.

Taste again for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to your taste.

Pour over pasta and toss.

Sprinkle the reserved crisp pancetta over the top of the pasta and serve.

Serve Pasta With Sweet Pea Sauce & Pancetta  with extra grated Parmigiano-Reggiano if anyone cares to add it. Either a crisp Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc would help you to enjoy this beautiful dish even more. You just won’t believe how delicious this dish is!


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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

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