This is a quick and easy pasta dish that the entire family will love. It can quickly be thrown together on busy weeknights and is both satisfying and delicious. Growing up in Milan, Italy, my son used to request a version of this pasta dish served in many restaurants in northern Italy. It was a tortellini dish tossed in a heavy cream sauce with peas and sometimes ham (prosciutto cotto). I actually hadn’t prepared this dish for many, many years until recently when I was craving pasta, I realized I had all the ingredients on hand, so I prepared it for myself.
My version uses dried pasta in place of the tortellini, and anything from shells to penne pasta works well. I use half and half cream in place of the heavy cream which makes a lighter dish though the sauce coats the pasta perfectly. If you prefer, you could substitute cooked, diced ham in place of the pancetta, though in my house, bacon makes everything taste better!
I keep a bag of frozen petite peas in my freezer at all times to use to prepare quick meals, and they work great in this dish, though of course if you have fresh peas, they would be great as well. To serve, I like a sprinkling of cracked black pepper along with a heaping spoonful of either grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.
Deborah Mele Revised 2022
- 12 Ounces Dried Pasta (See Notes Above)
- 4 Ounces Diced Pancetta (Or Bacon)
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1 1/2 Cups Half and Half Cream
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1 Cup Baby Peas
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
- While the water is heating, fry the diced pancetta in a skillet over medium heat until crispy and lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Drain excess fat from the skillet.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is "al dente".
- Add the garlic to the skillet and stir for a minute but do not let it color.
- Add the cream, peas, and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil and cook a couple of minutes to thicken.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the pasta from pot and add to the skillet. (Do not worry about adding a little pasta water as well!)
- Stir continuously over high heat until the pasta is well coated with sauce, and the sauce is thick.
- Serve in individual bowls topped with some freshly cracked black pepper and pass the grated cheese.