It’s the simplest recipes that sometimes hold the dearest spot in an Italian kid’s heart. Pasta piselli is a classic, simple dish that just about every Nonna serves up to grandkids for lunch or dinner, particularly for picky eaters. It’s hard to get little feet to stop running around long enough to get some food in them. From my memory, the conversation with Nonna goes something like this:

“What do you want to eat?”
“Do you want pasta?”
“Do you want pasta piselli?”

There are two versions of pasta piselli – with sauce and without – but we’ll start with the one my Nonna made. Adding peas to a regular pasta dish does something: it adds a pop of unexpected sweetness and, I image, is a great way to get vegetables into a little one. When you grow up, pasta piselli is a simple pleasure, an easy home cooking twist that infuses an ordinary dish with a little history and love (yes, all that from a few peas!). Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.

Pasta Piselli
200 gr of pasta (100 grams per person)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
tomato sauce
Parmiggiano Reggiano


If you have tomato sauce all ready to go, you can put a pot on to warm it up. We often freeze extra amounts of tomato sauce in two or four-cup containers for use in meals just like this one. For a quick tomato sauce from scratch, start by warming up a heavy bottom pot with two tablespoons of olive oil coating the bottom. When heated, add in one clove of garlic, minced, and one small onion, finely chopped, and cook for one minute. Pour in a bottle of passata or plum tomatoes, along with any herbs and spices you like, and have it boil down to a cooked, thick consistency on medium-low. This could take about 20-30 minutes.


After that, the recipe is really simple. Boil your pasta to the instructions on the package. You want to pick a short pasta that will hold on to the sauce and the peas with every forkful – like penne or rotini. Add your peas, fresh or frozen, to the sauce in the final minute of cooking. When you pasta is ready, drain it and toss it in the sauce and you are ready to go!


Serve hot with grated Parmiggiano Reggiano to top it off. It’s a simply, homey dish that I hope brings you comfort, just like it does in my family!


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