The history behind this spring pasta favorite runs deep. It’s the dish I first served to my now best friend and her husband when they came over to our home for our first co-family dinner party. I knew my friend’s husband was a great home cook and really into food and wine — sound like anyone else you know? — and I really wanted to wow him.
Enter this weeknight pasta with pancetta and peas. It’s both humble, yet refined.
A good pasta offers restraint — it doesn’t need to be over-the-top in terms of sauce or beat you over the head with fancy ingredients (though I’m fond of both…). It must offer up contrasting textures, bright flavors, and simplicity.
AKA: dinner party worthy with the ease of being executed on a busy weeknight after a long day of work.
Because honestly, shouldn’t every day taste this good?
What’s in this weeknight pasta with pancetta and peas?
Fresh seasonal ingredients!
- high quality pancetta (I like to get mine from behind the deli counter where they’ll slice it fresh for you!)
- local shiitakes
- fresh mint
- English peas
- a good cheese (I like grana padano, but pecorino or aged parmesan would be fantastic as well)
- your favorite pasta
- just enough heavy cream to make a difference and take this over the top
Can I substitute frozen peas for fresh English peas?
You can, but I think one of the things that makes this pasta so special comes from the texture of using fresh peas. They don’t get mushy and they hold their shape. But if you can’t find fresh shelled english peas in your market — or if it’s simply out of season — replace with frozen peas. They don’t even need to thaw before being added to the pan! Simply cook for ~3 minutes, or until desired doneness is reached, then continue on with the directions.
Can you make this pasta ahead of time?
YES! While this is fantastic the day of, I am a firm believer that pasta always tastes better the next day! Seriously. Something about the flavors getting a chance to meld together. What you can do is reserve some of the water the pasta cooked in and add it to the day-old pasta in a large pot to reheat slowly. A splash of cream helps too! Heat everything together over medium heat, top with freshly grated or sliced cheese, then devour.
I will be absolutely shocked if this does not become a staple in your kitchen. It’s that good.
If you make this Weeknight Pasta with Pancetta, Peas, and Mint, please let me know by leaving a review below!
Looking for more pasta recipes? Check out some of my favorites below:
Weeknight Pasta with Pancetta, Peas, and Mint
- 1 lb campanelle or other pasta
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ lb pancetta cubed (*see note below)
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms stems removed, thinly sliced
- 3 Tbsp shallots thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh English peas
- 2 cloves garlic minced (about 1 Tbsp)
- Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
- ¼ cup Grana Padano cheese thinly sliced, plus more for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add 1 Tbsp kosher salt. Cook pasta according to package directions, or until al dente, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add cubed pancetta and cook, stirring often, until mostly crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving pancetta grease in pan.
- Add shiitakes to the pan and cook undisturbed for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until mushrooms are a deep golden brown on each side. Add shallots and peas, then season with 1 tsp kosher salt and ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until peas are cooked through, but still have a little crunch to them. Add garlic, then cook 30 seconds more, or until fragrant.
- Pour in white wine and vinegar, then use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add cooked pasta and ½ cup reserved pasta water (*see note below if serving pasta the next day!), then stir to combine.
- Add heavy cream, butter, mint, and cheese, then toss once more. Serve immediately with extra mint and cheese on top.