This is a simple pasta dish that you can have ready and on the table in 20 to 30 minutes. It’s a very common primi piatti in Italian-American households. The choice of pasta is important because you want the pasta to be similar in size to the peas. Ditalini, conchigliette, or spaghetti broken into ½ inch pieces are typical.
Pasta Piselli – (Pasta with Peas)
¼ cup good quality olive oil
2 ounces uncured bacon or pancetta, cut into small dice
2 medium onions, cut into small dice
1 pound fresh peas or frozen petite peas, thawed
Salt and pepper
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Locatelli Romano cheese
1 pound ditalini or other small pasta (see note)
½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley or mint, coarsely chopped
Heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and bacon; sauté until the onions are tender and bacon slightly crisp, about 10 minutes. Add the peas and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5 minutes, or until the peas are tender. Remove from the heat, mash some of the peas slightly with a fork or potato masher. Cook the pasta in boiling salty water until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the water. Add the pasta to the skillet with the peas and heat over medium heat. Add a little of the cooking water if the pasta seems too dry or you want more of a soupy dish. Stir in parsley or mint and some of the cheese and serve, passing the remainder of the cheese at the table.