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If your mother cooks Italian food, why should you go to a restaurant? – Martin Scorcese

This quote by Martin Scorcese could not be more true.  Growing up we rarely went out to dinner, unless it was for an event like a wedding or something like that.   Back then there was no take out and if there was, it was probably Pizza.  That’s because Italian mothers had dishes like pasta e piselli in their cooking repertoire.   Italians have a knack for making things like pasta, peas and pasta water taste like it came from a five star restaurant.  While other kids might have thought that sounded weird, I never questioned my mother’s cooking because it was always so good!

Pasta e piselli

Today pasta e piselli is the quintessential go to meal (Italian style).  This pasta dish has got it going on.  It’s quick, flavorful and budget friendly.  

Traditionally this pasta dish is made using fresh peas, but I just use frozen peas because it is soooo much easier.  Like most Italian dishes, pasta e piselli has many variations, some are made with meat, some are made with cream and some are made with tomatoes.  Some families make it dry and some make it like soup.  That’s just how it goes with Italian cooking.  

As for me, I like to make it somewhere in between with short cut pasta, frozen sweet peas, shallots and lots of grated Parmesan.  Emphasis on “lots” of grated cheese.  I also use the pasta water to give it a little broth, but not too soupy.  You could literally make this dish twenty different ways, but I prefer my recipe because it was inherited through familial tradition.  Tradition is very important to me and I believe some things don’t need an update, but that might just be the old fashioned girl in me. 

Pasta and Peas

So the next time you’re in a pinch for a quick and tasty meal, follow the tips and recipe card below for pasta e piselli.  You may even have your kids asking for “more peas please”.  Mangia and enjoy!

A few TIPS before you start cooking:   

  1. Give your pasta water plenty of salt; this is will bring the flavor to your dish.
  2. Adding a little butter gives a little extra flavor and creaminess to the dish.
  3. Make sure you sweat those shallots out for as much flavor as possible.  There is just something about butter and shallots that drives me wild … yum!! 
  4. Don’t be shy with the cheese it helps make a creamier broth at the end.
Pasta and Peas

Pasta e Piselli (Pasta and Peas)


  • 8 oz of small pasta (like ditalini small shells, etc..)
  • 1 small shallot diced
  • 2 Tblsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tblsp. EVOO
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan/Romano Cheese more/less if you like
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 cups reserved pasta water


  • Cook pasta in plenty of salted boiling water.
  • Saute shallots in butter and olive oil on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the peas and continue to saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add the cooked and drained pasta along with 1 cup of the reserved water. Add the cheese along with more liquid if too dry (1/4 cup at a time). Serve warm with more grated cheese and cracked black pepper.


*keep in mind the water will give the dish added flavor so use salt generously
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!