I am so excited to finally share our family favourite. This creamy and cheesy pasta with pancetta and peas could be yours in 20 minutes!
Last week I shared my recipe for a basic pasta cream sauce. The recipe that is the foundation of all creamy pasta dishes. I’ve also told you that you could add many delicious things to that recipe to make it more interesting.
It only makes sense to introduce you to one of my favourite pasta recipes that is the next step after the basic cream sauce. I bring you creamy pasta with pancetta, peas and mint. That’s right I said mint.
Mint is not the herb typically used in pastas here but it’s used quite a bit in Italy and let me tell you what it does.
It lifts the rich, creamy and cheesy sauce and brightens this pasta with pancetta dish in the way basil and oregano just can’t do.
Any time I serve this creamy pasta to my guests, I am guaranteed to hear how much they were surprised and delighted by the addition of mint…and PANCETTA.
What is Pancetta and can it be substituted in this recipe ?
The short answer is Pancetta is Italian bacon. The long answer is Pancetta is made slightly differently than bacon. Both are made from pork belly and while bacon is smoked, pancetta is cured with salt.
You can easily substitute pancetta with bacon but make sure you go for high quality, meaty, thick- sliced bacon.
Here is a photo of cooked pancetta, not much fat there. So if you end up using bacon, discard excess fat to prevent your pasta from becoming too greasy.
So what ingredients can I add to my Pasta with Pancetta?
As with many Italian dishes, this pasta number is not overloaded with ingredients. Italians really love it simple! So the key players here are…
- short pasta
- Parmesan cream sauce
- fresh mint
What can I use to give my pasta with pancetta more flavour?
This pasta is quite mild and could be accused of lacking flavour but if prepared properly it is a complete knockout! Trust me.
One of my secret weapons for upping a flavour a little is to throw in a clove of garlic into the pan with pancetta. I don’t slice it or mince it because I don’t want a full on garlic flavour in my pasta with pancetta but I want it to be slightly perfumed with it.
When the pancetta is cooked I simply discard the garlic clove and move on to the next step of the recipe.
Tips for making delicious pasta dishes
My other piece of advice is to always cook pasta in salted water. It’s a crucial moment for the pasta to absorb flavour. If you salt it later, it will only go on the surface of the pasta while cooking it in salty water ensures it’s seasoned all the way through.
And always taste and season your pasta with salt and pepper before you serve it. In my opinion, salt is a key player when it comes to pasta!
For more tips, check out my Pasta Cream Sauce recipe.
If you are loving this recipe for pasta with pancetta, you might like other pasta recipes that I have on the blog. My personal favourites are
I love seeing your photos of my creations, so tag @vikalinka in your Instagram snaps to show off your mad kitchen skills!
- 125g/4oz pancetta or good quality bacon
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 lbs short pasta
- 350ml/1 1/2 cups double/heavy cream
- 50g/1/2cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 tbsp fresh mint chopped
- 80g/1/2 cup peas frozen or fresh
Set the pasta cooking in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.
Meanwhile cook the pancetta in a frying pan with one whole clove of garlic until the pancetta renders fat, then discard the garlic. (Drain excess fat if using fatty bacon or pancetta.)
Add half the mint, cream and Parmesan cheese and heat the cream gently over low heat until the cheese is melted, add the frozen peas and cook for 1 minute longer. Add salt to taste and take it off the heat.
Drain the cooked pasta while reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce, add the other half of the mint.
Toss the pasta in the sauce until well coated, add a splash of reserved water if the sauce is too dry.
Add more salt and pepper to taste.