Pasta with Peas (Quick, Easy, and Affordable)

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Pasta with peas is the perfect quick and easy one pan dinner! On top of that, it’s an amazing and affordable pantry meal.

Pasta with Peas

Can I let you in on a little secret? I don’t like peas. Specifically canned peas. Like I really expected to not like this pasta, but I’m doing my best not to shop right now and that’s what I have on hand. But Oh. My. Word. This pasta is phenomenal!

Really and truly incredible.

You’ll love this Pasta e Piselli for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

This is one of those pastas that will absolutely surprise you. It definitely has me wondering what other cheap pantry ingredients I’ve been overlooking.

This meal turns out best using short pasta and I wouldn’t recommend using spaghetti or linguine.

I prefer making this one pot pasta using either fusilli, bowties, or conchiglie (small shells).

If you love affordable Italian recipes, you may love my Italian Thin Crust Pizza Dough recipe. It has the most amazing texture and flavor!

Pasta with peas ingredients in a silver skillet.

How to Make One Pot Pasta with Peas

This recipe couldn’t be any simpler. Even though it’s full of flavor, it only takes about 20 minutes to get it on the table.

The secret is cooking the pasta over relatively low heat. The longer it takes to cook, the more starch it will release, and the more starch it releases, the creamer your sauce will be.

Before and after process collage of pasta with peas.

To start, you’ll saute the chicken, then the onion, garlic, and red chili flakes.

A process collage showing sauteed onions and chicken with dry pasta added in.

Next, add in the pasta and just enough water to mostly cover the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.

A process collage showing peas being mixed in to one pot pasta.

When the pasta is about 1 minute away from finishing cooking, add the in the drained and rinsed canned peas and stir to mix it into the pasta.

A process collage showing shredded cheese being mixed into pasta to make a creamy sauce.

When the pasta is finished cooking, take the skillet off of the heat and stir in the shredded cheese to make a delicious and easy sauce.

A close up image of one pan pasta with peas.

Best Pasta with Peas Sauce

The best part about this pasta is that it has a luxurious creamy sauce, but you don’t actually have to make sauce!

That’s right, this creamy sauce actually has no cream in it.

The sauce is made from a combination of the starchy water and cheese that’s stirred in at the last second that melts and coats the pasta.

If you wanted to, you could add a bit of Alfredo, red sauce, or even ranch dressing. Any of those would be lovely flavor additions, but they’re definitely not necessary.

You could even whip an egg and some cream together and stir that into the cooked pasta, making something akin to pasta carbonara.

How to Reheat Pasta and How Long Pasta Keeps

You can store this pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days. To reheat it, add the pasta and a couple of Tablespoons of water to a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir to mix the water in with the pasta and reheat slowly.

Labeled pasta with peas ingredients in a silver skillet.

Optional Chicken Substitutions

I love using chicken breast in this recipe. It’s affordable, easy to use, adds tons of flavor, and I pretty much always have one in the freezer.

If you’re vegetarian or don’t have any meat on hand, I’d recommend adding in at least 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon (or any bouillon of choice) to the water while the pasta is cooking.

Pasta with lemon on a white plate.

Some other great meat options that would taste amazing in this recipe are:

  • Pancetta
  • Ham
  • Bacon
  • Tuna
  • Prosciutto
  • Sausage
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp

About 1/3 cup would make the perfect amount for any of these proteins.

Pasta in silver skillet.

Optional Vegetable Add-Ins

I usually make this recipe when there’s little food on hand, so I like to keep it pretty basic and made with pantry staples.

Other vegetables that I love adding when I have some to use up are:

  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
A close up image of quick and easy pasta with peas.

Which Cheese Should I Use?

This is a very versatile recipe, and many different cheeses will work.

The only thing that makes a big difference is using freshly shredded cheese.

Cheese that is pre-shredded is coated in starch to stop the pieces from sticking together in the bag. This also means that it won’t melt together well. So, if you use pre-shredded cheese, your sauce won’t be smooth, creamy, and luscious.

I typically use either parmesan or pizza mozzarella, depending on what I have on hand.

You could also use other block cheeses, like cheddar or Monterey Jack.

If you don’t have any cheese that grates well, you could top the pasta with ricotta or goat cheese.

Before and after process collage of one pot pasta.

Gluten Free One Pot Pasta

If you’re wondering if you can make one pot pasta using gluten free pasta, the answer is definitely yes!

That’s actually what I used for the pasta in the photographs, so you can see that it turned out very well.

Different gluten free pasta brands have different textures, and you want to choose one that doesn’t fall apart too easily.

I prefer a brown rice pasta for this recipe, and this is the brand that I use and recommend.

Regardless of which brand you use, be sure to use short pasta. Pastas like gluten free spaghetti won’t turn out well in this recipe.

Creamy pasta on a white plate.

Vegan Pasta with Peas

To make this recipe vegan, all you have to do is omit the chicken and the cheese.

I don’t think vegan cheese would melt correctly, so I wouldn’t add it in at the end. You could stir in a bit of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor though.

I would also recommend adding in at least 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon to the pasta water while the pasta is cooking. I’ve tried it this way and it adds so much depth of flavor! It’s slightly reminiscent of ramen.

What You’ll Need

The only tool that I’d really recommend for this recipe is a good large nonstick skillet. This is the one that I use every single day and love!

Using a nonstick skillet makes a big difference because you want the starchy water to glide across the skillet so it can be used as a sauce. If you don’t use a nonstick skillet, the liquid may stick to the bottom and leave you without a true sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

Pasta with Peas and Chicken

Pasta with chicken and peas in a silver skillet.

Pasta with peas is the perfect quick and easy one pan dinner! On top of that, it's an amazing and affordable pantry meal.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil (15 ml, plus more for serving)
  • 1 chicken breast (optional - washed, dried, lightly salted, and cut into roughly 1” cubes)
  • 1 small yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 medium clove garlic (minced)
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (1/2 - 1 gram, depending on taste preference)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (3 grams, plus more for serving)
  • 2 ½ - 3 cups water (590 - 710 ml, plus more as needed, start with just enough to mostly cover the pasta)
  • ½ pound short pasta (226 grams, short brown rice gluten free pasta also works very well)
  • ¾ cup canned peas (115 grams, drained and rinsed, up to 1 ½ cups if using large frozen or fresh peas)
  • ½ - ¾ cup freshly grated cheese of choice (50 - 75 grams, ½ cup if hard cheese like Parmesan, ¾ cup if something like pizza mozzarella or cheddar)
  • Pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add in the olive oil and swirl it around to coat the bottom.
  3. If using chicken, saute the chicken for a couple of minutes on two sides (just long enough so that the two largest sides are golden brown).
  4. Remove the chicken from the skillet to a bowl, but leave the juices in the pan.
  5. Add in the onion and saute for about 4 minutes, or until translucent.
  6. Add in the garlic and chili flakes and stir. Saute for about 30 seconds, or until the garlic is aromatic.
  7. Add the chicken, pasta, and just enough water to mostly cover the pasta. Stir and bring to a boil. Cook according to the pasta package instructions, keeping an eye on the pasta to see if it needs more water. When the pasta is about 1 minute away from finishing cooking, add the rinsed canned peas in and stir.
  8. When the pasta is finished cooking there should be enough starchy liquid left to serve as the sauce for the pasta (don’t keep cooking the pasta until all of the liquid is gone).
  9. Remove the pasta from the heat, and stir in the shredded cheese.
  10. Plate and top with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

If you’re using frozen peas, add them in when you add the water. They’ll need the full time to thaw and cook. If you’re using fresh peas, add them in about halfway through the cooking process.

If you’re vegetarian or don’t have meat on hand, you can add some bouillon to the water while the pasta is cooking to increase the flavor in this dish.

Capers would make a wonderful optional add-in if you like their salty flavor.

The chicken can be substituted with any meat you prefer. Pancetta, prosciutto, bacon, sausage, tuna, shrimp, or salmon would all taste especially good.

You can store this pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days. To reheat it, add the pasta and a couple of Tablespoons of water to a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir to mix the water in with the pasta and reheat slowly.

It's best to use freshly grated cheese. Cheese that is pre-shredded is coated in starch to stop the pieces from sticking together in the bag. This also means that it won't melt together well. So, if you use pre-shredded cheese, your sauce won't be smooth, creamy, and luscious.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1/4

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 8.7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 33.9mgSodium: 491mgCarbohydrates: 47.8gNet Carbohydrates: 44.1gFiber: 3.7gSugar: 3.2gProtein: 23.4g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate. This was calculated using Cronometer assuming that 1 medium chicken breast and 3/4 cup pizza mozzarella were used.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Two images of Italian pasta with peas.

The next time you’re looking for an easy, affordable, and delicious pantry meal, try making this incredible one pot pasta with peas!

Pasta with chicken and peas in a silver skillet.

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