This easy pasta and peas recipe is the perfect choice for a quick Italian meal for you and your family that tastes great. It’s one my easiest pasta recipes and can be on the dinner table in just 10 minutes – not kidding.
This recipe is exactly what the name implies, with the main ingredients being both pasta and peas. However, we take this recipe further by using additional simple Italian ingredients that add a burst of flavor.
Italian pasta and peas is a flexible recipe that you can keep as simple as the name suggests, or you can incorporate other ingredients for a touch of variety.
Pasta and Peas Recipe
I first heard of this recipe while visiting my husband’s Italian side of the family during the summer. As usual, we were in the kitchen with his parents talking about pasta recipes and someone mentioned using peas. I had never heard of this combination and we certainly didn’t have it while I was growing up.
One day I had some peas in the freezer and gave it try. Having no set of instructions I did was seemed easiest, I cooked the peas, sauteed garlic in some olive oil and added the cooked peas.
By that time the pasta was done so I just mixed it all together and topped with Italian cheese.
It was delicious!
The current recipe here is slightly modified since then, where you can cook the peas in the frying pan with the olive oil and garlic. My only warning is to read the cooking instructions on the packaging for the peas since I’ve since discovered that some peas of the non-sweet variety take longer to cook.
The combination of peas with the garlic, Italian cheese, and olive oil, is what transforms this into an amazing recipe. But I’ll give you some hints about how to best select and prepare the ingredients to make this recipe a winner.
Although there will undeniably be someone in your household who will turn their nose up at the mere mention of peas, you really must try to get them to give it a taste test.
Peas are in fact used quite a bit in Italian cooking, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that peas and pasta are a suitable match.
I recommend using sweet peas for this recipe, if you can. I’ve used regular peas and it was found lacking in comparison. I find the sweetness adds a nice compliment to the pasta and salty cheese.
The fresh garlic and peas together make a great duo and it’s not a combination that lays heavy on the stomach.
Get two cloves of garlic and remove the skins. Then slice them in thin strips. Don’t mince or finely dice them unless you really love the garlic flavor.
Similar to my pasta with fresh tomatoes and garlic recipe, we want to preserve the delicate nature of the dish. Plus, those who don’t like heavy garlic can still enjoy the hint of garlic while choosing not to eat the garlic slices.
Unlike most of my recipes, I actually recommend cooking the garlic so it starts to brown just a little if you want a slight nutty or roasted garlic flavor. If not, then just don’t let it brown. If it does, toss it out and start over.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
It should go without saying that the only oil to use should be olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil at that, since we aren’t frying. Regular olive oil won’t have the level of flavor and that’s where the extra virgin will help.
Pasta and Peas is a no-sauce Pasta Recipe
One of the best things about this recipe, is that it doesn’t use any sauce.
No red marinara tomato sauce and no white Alfredo sauce. It uses olive oil and garlic as the base.
This makes it even more convenient because you don’t have to worry about preheating any sauce, or thawing sauce you had in the freezer.
Can You Cook the Peas and Pasta Together?
You do not want to add the peas to the pasta water and think they will cook together. I repeat, do not cook the pasta and peas together.
Instead you cook the peas separately, along with the garlic and olive oil. Once the pasta is done you add it all together.
Pasta and Peas Recipe Variations
There are different variations of this Italian recipe and I’ll list them below. Remember, this recipe doesn’t have to be set in stone. You can get creative and add in other ingredients to make it your own.
Here are some variations to my pasta and peas recipe you might enjoy.
- Fry some bacon and add to the peas. This causes the recipe to no longer be vegetarian, but it is a common version.
- Saute 1/4 of an onion in the olive oil before adding the garlic.
- Add other vegetables, for example asparagus and peas go well together.
- Cook with macaroni pasta.
- Add some shrimp.
- Add chopped pancetta to make a very Italian peas and pasta recipe.
Long Pasta vs. Short Pasta
As always, I rarely follow hard and fast rules, and neither should you when it comes to my recipes.
But with this recipe I do recommend using linguine as your type of long pasta. If you don’t have any, regular spaghetti will work well too. I’ve used both many times.
I recommend not using short pasta, however I think this may be a personal preference. My opinion is that since the olive oil is the base, it coats the long pasta better for an even flavor, while short curly pasta like rotini might not do it so well.
Experiment and let me know how you prefer to make Italian pasta and peas!
Is it okay to use frozen peas with pasta?
Ladies and gents, using frozen peas with this pasta dish works great!
I love recipes where you can use frozen vegetables as it just makes cooking so much easier.
I’ve never cooked this with fresh peas from a garden, so I can’t talk about how to cook them but I’d imagine it would be the same in this recipe as frozen.
Another time saver for this recipe is that the peas don’t have to be boiled like you normally do.
Instead, you cook them by letting them simmer with the olive oil and garlic in a frying pan while your pasta water is boiling and you cook the pasta.
This means that by the time your linguine (angel hair doesn’t count since it cooks super fast), is done and ready, your peas and pseudo sauce are ready.
Transfer the pasta to the frying pan (always save some of the pasta water!!!), mix it up and serve.
Seriously – less than 15 minutes.
What Goes with Pasta and Peas?
Pasta and peas can be eaten anytime of year, so you can compliment your recipe with seasonal fruits or vegetables or meats which make great side dishes.
Avoid any starchy side dishes like potatoes since the pasta is a starch.
Here are a few recipes you can try for sides.
Breaded Chicken Breasts
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Broccoli and Garlic
Also check out my Italian Green Beans recipe which is a perfect side dish for any pasta meal!
How to Make Pasta and Peas
Here’s the recipe for how to make pasta and peas. Follow the steps and you’ll be amazed at how easy this delicious recipe is.
With this recipe, I’m not sure you can get much simpler. You have to give it a try.
Did you know many Italians even add peas to their meatloafs!
Pasta and Peas Recipe
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Cups frozen (or fresh) peas adjust to taste
- 2 cloves of garlic sliced thin
- 3/4 lb linguine or other pasta -preferably long
- Romano or Parmesan cheese for topping at end
- In sauce pan begin to boil the water for the pasta.
- In a large frying pan (enough to hold the pasta later), over med-high heat add frozen peas, and garlic and add enough water to cover slightly.
- When water is about gone, lower heat to Low and add in the 3 Tbsp of olive oil and make sure to coat the ingredients.
- Keep a watchful eye, making sure not to burn the garlic. If needed add some water or more olive oil.
- Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
- When pasta is finished, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
- Transfer the pasta to the frying pan and toss so the pasta is coated with the olive oil.
- Serve the pasta and top with grated Italian cheese (preferably Romano).
- Use the extra pasta water if the pasta is too dry. It’s also important to add the pasta water in with any left over pasta containers so when you reheat it, it won’t be dry and you don’t water it down in flavor with non-pasta water.
- Serve with Italian or other artisan bread on the side.
- Also, the reason for slicing garlic instead of dicing or crushing it is that the slicing helps keep it from being too pungent. The sliced garlic allows for the olive oil to still pick up the flavor, but not so strong that it may turn off garlic sensitive eaters. It’s also easier for people who don’t want to eat garlic to move it to the side, which you can’t do if it’s crushed, obviously.
- Don’t forget a salad on the side.