Salty pancetta is crisped up and tossed together with green peas and shells in a creamy sauce. This Pancetta and Pea Pasta comes together in about 15 minutes with just a few ingredients making this a perfect weeknight dinner.
- 16 ounces medium pasta shells
- 8 ounces pancetta, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 cups half and half (or 3/4 cup cream and 3/4 cup milk)
- 1-1/2 cups frozen petite peas (about 8 ounces)
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup reserved pasta water
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- Pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh basil, for serving (optional)
- Fill a large pot with water and a big pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add pasta and set the timer to cook the pasta according to package instructions. With one minute of pasta cook time remaining, add the frozen peas. Check the pasta to ensure it’s cooked to your desired tenderness. Set aside 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta and peas and return them to the large pot.
- Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Once hot, add pancetta and cook until crispy. If needed, you can add a splash of oil to help it crisp up, but you shouldn’t need it. Drain any excess rendered fat from the saute pan.
- Add the garlic and butter to the pancetta and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the half and half and cook with a rapid simmer, about 3 minutes. Shut off the heat. Slowly stir in the parmesan cheese a little a time, until melted.
- Add the cooked pasta shells and peas with ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and pasta water as necessary. Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and basil, if desired.
- Serve immediately.
Don't add salt until the very end. Because of the salted pasta water and the salty pancetta, you likely won't need to add salt to this dish at all. But if you do, add it in at the end after you've tasted it.
Use any pasta that you want here, though the shells are fun for holding the pancetta and peas.
Look for pre-sliced pancetta at the store and save yourself the time of dicing it up.
Pancetta can be swapped out with bacon or ham or you can even omit it. Though you'll lose a bit of flavor so I recommend increasing the garlic and adding salt.
Keywords: Pancetta and Pea Pasta