Feb 20, 2014

Recipe: Pasta Piselli in Bianco

Recipe for Pasta Piselli in Bianco

Today I’m hoping for spring. The newscaster on the radio yesterday said that by this point in this crazy winter, we’ve shovelled more than 100cm of snow. And this weekend the big melt is on. There’s a puddle the size of an Olympic swimming pool at the end of my driveway, we nearly lost the dog in it.

While I don’t trust that winter is over, the water tells me spring is on the way and that means sunshine, more time outdoors and fresh spring vegetables. The best of those is peas, and while I prefer them raw, sweet and small right out of the pod, they are a great addition to meals as well, like in pasta piselli in bianco (pasta with peas in a “white” sauce).

When I was a kid, I could make myself sick on raw peas. Early on a Saturday morning, my mom and grandparents would disappear for a few hours and come back with bushels of peas in their bright green pods. We would sit in the shade of the front porch, metal bowls in our laps, shellling the pods one by one and listening to the peas hit the bowl with a satisfying “ping, ping, ping.” At first I would be excited to help: I was usually eating more raw peas than were making it into the bowl. But an hour into it, the conversation waned, my stomach was full and my fingernails were lined with green. I would squirm in my seat, hoping to be excused. No such luck – this was a family affair, through and through. When we were finally done, we would freeze the peas and have them for the whole year – there was nothing better.

These days, I go to a nearby farm where they do the shelling for you and flash freeze the sweet peas. A few weeks ago, I shared a pasta piselli recipe that was traditional to my family, using tomato sauce. Now, here’s another common recipe also employed by parents and grandparents as a quick dish that kids generally love: pasta piselli in bianco. “In bianco” means “in white”, or in a white sauce, without tomatoes. While you can use frozen peas, fresh peas are always the best. The recipe is quick, easy and fresh: to be served in the bright sunshine of spring.

Recipe for Pasta Piselli in Bianco

Pasta Piselli in Bianco
200g mini shell dry pasta (100g per person)
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 medium onion, chopped
50g pancetta (or bacon. Use however much you have around.)
olive oil
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

Recipe for Pasta Piselli in Bianco

Put a large pot of water on high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, finely chop your pancetta or bacon and your onions. Warm a frying pan on medium-high heat, coating the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, salt it generously and pour in your dry pasta. Add your pancetta to the frying pan and sautee for two to three minutes. Add in your onions and cook until softened. Finally, add the peas to the pan.

At this point your pasta will be ready, at al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid (or more if you would like this more like a soup). Add this liquid, and the pasta, to the frying pan and toss. Cook for another two to three minutes until the liquid thickens a bit and the flavours meld. Serve piping hot, with a drizzle of fresh olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Recipe for Pasta Piselli in Bianco

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  • I think we are all hoping for Spring, but the mud-season that we have to go through is always the worst! Great “spring-hoping” recipe, though! I think peas are totally underrated ;)


  • Try the same recipe with fresh fava beans. Delicious.

  • beautiful I love your blog

  • Sono molto felice di scoprire il tuo blog. Here in Montréal we got another dump of @#$%?&* snow. That recipe looks so pretty and I’m so craving fresh local anything. I think I’d add some parsley or other herbs if using frozen peas. I haven’t any peas on hand but I do have little frozen edamame, which are surprisingly good. I do have “petites coquilles”.

    I live in la Petite-Italie – our oldest extant Little Italy in Montréal, so very close to Jean-Talon Market, which you may well have visited.

    • I did visit Jean-Talon Market – and loved it! I had the calamari from the fish market in the corner. Would love to hear how the pasta worked out with the fresh herbs!

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Tomato-growing, family-surrounded, big life and big laughs girl sorting out an Italian-Canadian life. Recipes are from the heart and the family vault. Learn more about this blog...

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