Pasta and peas (pasta e piselli) is a quick Italian recipe made with simple ingredients the whole family will love. Ready in under 30 minutes this delicious recipe is great to make on busy weeknights.
Italian pasta with green peas is a perfect recipe to make during the spring months when fresh spring peas are in season. You can use fresh shelling peas or English peas, sugar snap peas, snow peas, or a combination of any of these in this easy pasta recipe.
Not a pasta lover? Check out my spring potato salad recipe or spring risotto with peas recipe for more ways to use sweet peas when they are in season. Another easy peas recipe that my family loves is my delicious vegan green pea and leek soup.
Table of contents
Ingredients and Substitutions
Peas – Sweet buttery green peas are the main flavor and star ingredient of this pasta dish. Use fresh peas or frozen peas.
Snap Peas – Sugar snap peas are optional but add a nice crunch and more fresh green pea flavor.
Pasta – The kind of pasta you use matters. Use short cut pasta or small pasta like orecchiette pasta, ditalini pasta, shells or macaroni which are similar in size to the peas. Medium pasta shapes like farfalle and rigatoni (as shown here) also work well to hold onto the peas and buttery sauce. Substitutions: Use gluten-free pasta to make this recipe gluten-free.
Lemon – Lemon juice and zest brightens the dish and round out the flavor of the sweet peas.
Thyme – Fresh thyme adds a wonderful herbal flavor that complements the sweet butter sauce. Substitutions: Other herbs like tarragon, parsley or chives can be used to add flavor to the pasta sauce.
Butter – Butter adds richness and creaminess to finish the sauce. Substitutions: Butter can be omitted for a vegan option or swapped with vegan butter or more olive oil.
Parmesan – Rich nutty parmesan cheese rounds out the simple pasta sauce. Use real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for the best flavor. Substitutions: Pecorino romano cheese may be used in place of parmesan. To make this vegan friendly, omit the parmesan or use a vegan parmesan cheese alternative.
How to Make Pasta e Piselli
Step 1: Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil then generously salt the water. It should be as salty as seawater.
Step 2: Gather all of the ingredients. Finely dice the shallots, mince the garlic cloves, and optionally split the fresh snap peas open into two halves to show the peas inside the shell. Pick the thyme leaves off of their stems.
Step 3: Heat up a large skillet over medium heat on the stove. Once the pan is hot add the extra-virgin olive oil followed by the diced shallots and minced garlic. Saute onions or shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown for about 3 minutes.
Step 4: Add the pasta to the large pot of salted water, give it a good stir so it doesn’t stick, and cook it until about 1 minute under al dente following the cooking time on the package.
Step 5: Add the fresh snap peas fresh peas (if using) at this point and season everything with salt and pepper, and let them cook for 1-2 minutes. If using frozen peas wait to add them.
Step 6: Drain pasta and reserve some of the pasta water then add the cooked pasta to the skillet and lower the heat. Add about 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water to start to help create a creamy sauce. Add the frozen peas now if using them.
Step 7: Stir in the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and grated Parmesan cheese, and add more pasta water as needed to keep the pea sauce loose.
Step 8: Remove the pan from the heat. Serve immediately with more grated parmesan cheese and lemon zest.
Try these swaps and additions to use what you have on hand in your pantry.
- Spicy – add a pinch of red pepper flakes for spicy heat
- Cheese – swap out parmesan with romano cheeses
- Fresh Herbs – try adding other herbs like fresh mint, tarragon, or basil which will all bring out the fresh taste of baby peas
- Add Protein – serve this simple pasta with roasted, pan-seared or grilled chicken breast
- Add Broth – use chicken broth or vegetable broth (or vegetable stock) in place of the pasta water to add more flavor to the sauce
- Creamy – add a splash of heavy cream or a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche to make a creamy sauce
No special equipment is needed for this simple recipe. All you need are a pot for cooking the pasta and a large skillet or saucepan for the sauce.
A kitchen spider is a handy utensil to have for scooping pasta out of its cooking water instead of draining the whole pot into a colander. Use a microplane cheese grater to finely shred the parmigiano reggiano cheese.
Store leftover pasta in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within three days. Store the leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eat it within three days. Reheat with a splash of water to reconstitute the sauce.
Remember to save some pasta water to create the sauce!
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- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup shallots minced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon thyme fresh
- 12 oz. pasta such as rigatoni, orecchiette, shells, farfalle, etc.
- 1 cup snap peas or more fresh or frozen peas
- 2 cups peas fresh or frozen
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for salting the pasta water
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest finely grated
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- First, bring a large pot of water to a boil then generously salt the water. It should be as salty as seawater.
- Meanwhile, prepare all of the ingredients. Finely dice the shallots, mince the garlic cloves, and optionally split the fresh snap peas open into two halves. Pick the thyme leaves off of the stems and gather the rest of the ingredients.
- Heat up large skillet over medium heat on the stove. Once the pan is hot add the olive oil followed by the shallots and garlic and sauté them stirring occasionally until they start to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Add the pasta to the large pot of salted water, give it a good stir so it doesn't stick, and cook it until about 1 minute under al dente following the cooking time on the package.
- Add the fresh snap peas fresh peas (if using) to the skillet, season everything with salt and pepper, and let them cook for 1-2 minutes. If using frozen peas wait to add them.
- Drain the pasta and reserve some of the pasta cooking water then add the pasta to the skillet and lower the heat. Add about 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water to the pan to help create a sauce. Add the frozen peas now if using them.
- Stir in the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and grated parmesan cheese, and add more pasta water as needed to keep the sauce loose.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Serve immediately with more grated parmesan cheese and lemon zest.