This creamy pea and pancetta pasta recipe really hits the spot when a pasta craving strikes – little pasta shells in a delicious creamy parmesan sauce with crispy garlic infused pancetta cubes and sweet peas.
It’s quick and easy to make – even when you’re exhausted after work but you need to get dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time. Everyone will want seconds!
This creamy pea and pancetta pasta with parmesan cheese is one of the nicest pasta dishes I’ve ever tried. It just ticks all the boxes!
Love creamy pasta dishes? You’ll want to try my recipes for creamy chicken Fajita pasta, creamy sweet chilli pasta with smoked salmon, slow cooker macaroni cheese and butternut squash macaroni cheese.
why i love this pea and pancetta pasta recipe
- Quick to make
- The sauce is made all in one pan – YES to less washing up
- All you need is 7 ingredients
- It’s very easily adaptable – see the ingredient list below
- The pasta sauce is crazy delicious
I’ve been making this Jamie Oliver recipe for many years now. I’ve adapted it very slightly to suit my tastes, but it’s very close to the original. It’s too good to mess around with!
The combination of the crispy pancetta, sweet peas, parmesan cheese and fresh mint is SO good. It’s making me hungry thinking about it!
Shell Pasta (conchiglie) Obviously you can use any pasta you like – but I love the way the shells hold all that lovely creamy sauce.
Garlic – I add just one flattened garlic clove to the olive oil when cooking the pancetta -this will give you a subtle hint of garlic flavour that isn’t overpowering.
Pancetta cubes – I prefer the smoked pancetta, but unsmoked is also fine. If you can’t find pancetta, you could use finely chopped streaky bacon instead.
Frozen peas – you don’t even need to precook them – just tip the peas right into the pan straight from the packet. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know what I’d do without a packet of frozen peas in my freezer!
Lemon juice brightens the dish up and adds a little zing. It also cuts through the richness of the sauce, so I wouldn’t recommend leaving it out.
Fresh mint leaves really elevates this pasta dish to another level. The mint adds freshness and lightens what could potentially be a rich, heavy pasta sauce.
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Double cream or creme fraiche
recipe tips and notes
- When cooking the pasta, make sure you add plenty of salt to the water. Only add it once the water has begun to boil before you add the pasta. To quote Anna Del Conte, “the water pasta cooks in should be as salty as the mediterranean!”
- As soon as the pancetta cubes are beginning to turn golden and crispy, throw in the peas. The peas will only take a couple of minutes to cook through.
- This is a very creamy pasta sauce. If you prefer your sauce a little less creamy, add a little less cream.
- TOP TIP! Don’t pour all the pasta water down the sink – using even just a little will help you get a silky smooth pasta sauce. I collect some in a little cup and keep it by the cooker so it’s right there when I need it.
- Double cream and Creme Fraiche can both be used in this recipe. Double (heavy) cream makes a richer sauce, while Creme Fraiche adds a slightly tangy note. I personally prefer using double cream here, but use whatever you like.
- unusually, I don’t add any salt or pepper to this pasta – the hefty amount of parmesan adds enough salty taste and I don’t think pepper is needed. But we’re all different, so please add salt and pepper according to your own taste.
did you make this recipe?
I really hope you enjoyed it as much as we do! Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment below and rate the recipe out of five by clicking on the stars in the recipe card.
more delicious pasta recipes to try
This post was originally published 25th June, 2012. Republished 5th August 2021.
- 400g Shell Pasta (of course you could use any pasta you wanted, but I think the shell variety works perfectly here)
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 peeled garlic clove, flattened slightly
- 130g smoked or unsmoked Pancetta Cubes
- 50g bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 250g Frozen Peas
- 150ml double cream or creme fraiche
- Juice of half a Lemon
- 60ml of the pasta cooking water (you might not need it all)
- 100g freshly grated Parmesan
- Cook your pasta in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the flattened garlic clove and the pancetta cubes to the pan and fry on a medium-high heat until golden and starting to crisp. Add the frozen peas to the pan. Remove the garlic clove and discard.
- After a couple of minutes, add the cream or creme fraiche and finely chopped mint leaves to the peas and bacon.
- Drain your pasta in a colander, reserving some of the pasta water. Tip the pasta straight into the frying pan of creamy sauce. Squeeze the lemon juice over the pasta.
- You should have a nice creamy sauce but if it's a little bit thick, stir in some of the reserved pasta water until you're happy with the consistency. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 704Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 571mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 6gSugar: 12gProtein: 21g
Calories and nutritional information are provided by a third party application and should be viewed as indicative figures only.