cast iron skillet
Pasta with Peas and Pancetta

Pasta with Peas and Pancetta

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I know, I know, pasta with peas and pancetta sounds fancy and kind of expensive. So, let’s fix it – and use bacon instead of pancetta. How Are Pancetta and Bacon Different? While both are made from pork bellies, the biggest difference between pancetta and bacon is that bacon is smoked and pancetta is salt-cured and dried. Pancetta, is really the Italian version of bacon.

Instead of using imported Italian pancetta, we are going to use good old American bacon in our recipe. Let’s face it: bacon is the candy of meats! There are entire gift guides dedicated to bacon lovers because it is so incredible. The best part? A little bit of bacon goes a long way – making that $4.99 a pound package go a lot further. This recipe? It uses just four ounces of bacon, so you get a lot of flavor for minimal investment – making this a very budget-friendly dinner for the family. The best part? It can on the table in thirty minutes or less.

Pasta with Peas and Pancetta

You will need:

  • 3/4 Lb. spaghetti (thin)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 4-oz bacon (cut into pieces)
  • 1 shallot (thinly sliced)
  • 2 C frozen peas (thawed)
  • 8 large garlic cloves (minced)
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper (divided)
  • 1 bunch parsley (chopped)
  • 1 lemon (zested and juiced)
  • Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • Stock pot
  • Large cast iron skillet
Pasta with Peas and Pancetta ingredients

Pasta with Peas and Pancetta Directions:

Line a large plate with paper towels.

Add both salt and a slight amount of olive oil to the pot of water. 
Bring the water to a boil.
Cook the pasta following the package instructions.
Before draining the water from the pot scoop out about 1 cup of the water. Set it aside for later.
Drain the water from the pasta.

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the 
bacon pieces and fry until fully cooked and are brown. Toss the bacon pieces often. Take the bacon pieces out of the skillet placing it on the lined plate. Take out about 2 teaspoons of the bacon grease before disposing of it. Set aside the 2 teaspoons of bacon fat to use later.

Replace the skillet on the stove top set on medium heat. Add the bacon grease and about 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Heat the skillet with the oil and bacon fat until it has a shimmer but not smoking. Slowly add the shallots, peas,salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper. Increase the stove top heat to a medium-high, cooking for about 5 minutes. Toss often. Add garlic and parsley, cooking for another 3 minutes. (Check to make sure that the peas are fully cooked.)

Pasta with Peas and Pancetta before pasta is added to cast iron skillet

Return the bacon pieces to the skillet. Add the cooked pasta and 3/4 cup of the pasta water. Add in the rest of the crushed red pepper, lemon zest and juice. Toss to combine.

Add the grated cheese to the pasta. Start out with 3-4 tablespoons. Add more if you desire. Taste test for salt and pepper.

Transfer the Pasta with Peas and Pancetta to a serving plate or individual bowls.

Pasta with Peas and Pancetta ready to eat in a cast iron skillet

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