One of my all-time favourite dishes growing up was pasta piselli – pasta with peas cooked with pancetta and onions. Cooked slowly, the sweetness of the onions combined with the salty pancetta was just a great combination and we would always fight for the biggest plate. It was also one of the first dishes I made when I decided to pick up cooking at University. In fact, the day we made and shot this dish, the [terrible] photo I took of my attempt came up on my Facebook memories and surprisingly we used very similar pasta this time around too.
Fast forward 9 years and I’m hoping my photography skills have improved even just a tiny amount – but the dish itself is much the same! Being here in Italy, we used a fresh red onion from our garden but, if you want to avoid the tears, you can also used frozen chopped onions. I often do this at home as they are almost always in the freezer.
The splash of water also helps the peas cook without them burning as you don’t want to thaw them out beforehand. Just make sure the heat is kept low as you want the peas to get nice and soft.
I always like to make extra pasta here as keep it for lunch the next day. You will find that the pasta becomes more starchy and therefore more creamy, and there is just something so satisfying about that, So – if you decide to just make the peas as a side dish for your Sunday roast, double everything up and you’ve got yourself a “sauce” ready for the next day with only the pasta left to cook!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
250g Frozen peas
1 Medium red onion, thinly sliced
150g Cubed smoked pancetta
100ml Cold water
1 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
To serve: 400g pasta (sub GF if required) – shells are great for this one.
Place frozen peas, pancetta and onion in a medium sized saucepan.
Add the water, add olive oil, pepper and half the salt.
Cook on a low heat with the lid slightly ajar, stirring occasionally for around 1 hour.
Once the pea are soft but not mushy, turn off the heat and check the seasoning. The pancetta will add saltiness, but if you feel more is needed, add the additional salt.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per instructions. When cooked, keep some of the cooking water aside, drain the rest and combine the peas with the pasta. If you want a little more liquid, you can add a splash of water but be careful to not make it too soupy.
Ps. I brought Nonna in to model with me this time around – and what a great sport she was! Look how cute she is: