It’s always a good idea to rummage through your pantry and freezer every week to see what ingredients you might need to use up. This week for me it was a half box of pasta, some frozen bacon, and frozen peas that were almost too frosty. So I took my favorite quick meal template (pasta + Parmesan + greens) and added in bacon for a simple and delicious meal. This Pasta with Bacon and Peas is definitely going on my regular rotation list!!
What Kind of Pasta to Use
You can literally use any type of pasta you have on hand for this recipe, which makes it a great option for using up leftovers in your pantry. Spaghetti, bowtie, fusilli, penne, or even ramen would work! I happened to have these little pasta shells, which turned out so cute because the peas would get caught in the shells and that made them look like peas in a pod. :)
What Else Can I Add?
As with most of my recipes, I love creating a nice simple “base” that you can enjoy as is, or add to if you have other ingredients on hand. Here are some other things you can add to this Pasta with Bacon and Peas that would be super delish:
- Top with a fried egg or chopped hard boiled egg
- Toss in a handful of fresh spinach
- Top with crispy fried onions
- Sprinkle on a dash of malt vinegar
- Add heavy cream to make it saucy
Pasta with Bacon and Peas
- 8 oz. pasta* ($0.63)
- 6 oz. bacon ($2.06)
- 1 small onion ($0.32)
- 1 cup frozen peas ($0.50)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan ($0.44)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.01)
- Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes). Reserve about a half cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the pasta in a colander.
- While the pasta is boiling, cook the bacon. Add the bacon to a large skillet and cook over medium heat until brown and crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Drain most of the bacon grease from the pan, leaving about 2 Tbsp.
- While the bacon is cooking, finely dice the onion. Add the diced onion to the remaining bacon grease and sauté until tender (about 5 minutes).
- Add the frozen peas and about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir until the peas have heated through.
- Add the drained pasta to the skillet, stir to combine, and remove from the heat.
- Top the pasta with Parmesan, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and crumbled bacon. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.
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How to Make Pasta with Bacon and Peas – Step by Step Photos
Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining in a colander.
While the pasta is cooking, begin the bacon. Add 6oz. bacon (or however much you have on hand) to a skillet and cook over medium heat until brown and crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Drain all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease from the pan.
While the bacon is cooking, finely dice a small yellow onion (or half of a large onion). After removing the bacon from the skillet, add the diced onion to the remaining bacon fat and sauté over medium heat until tender (about 5 minutes). The moisture from the onion will help dissolve some of the browned bits of bacon from the bottom of the pan.
Once the onions are softened, add 1 cup frozen peas and about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Continue to cook and stir over medium heat until the peas have heated through.
Add the drained pasta back to the skillet and stir to combine. Turn off the heat.
Add ¼ cup grated Parmesan, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper to the pasta, then crumble the cooked bacon over top.
Stir until everything is well combined and coated in Parmesan. Taste the pasta and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.
How does this compare to Pasta Carbonara? Would you recommend adding an egg to this recipe?
It’s super similar! Traditional carbonara uses guanciale (pork cheek), but pancetta or bacon are often used as substitutes. You’ll also need to reserve about a cup of pasta water (instead of just a 1/4 cup). Instead of topping the dish with parmesan, whisk the same amount of cheese in a small bowl with 1 or 2 egg yolks to make a thick paste. Then, slowly whisk in the reserved pasta water (a little bit at a time so you don’t scramble the egg) and stir until all the cheese has melted and the mixture is pourable (You may not need all the pasta water). At the end of the recipe, turn the heat off as directed, add the pasta, and then pour in the cheese/egg mixture and toss to coat. The residual heat will cook the egg yolk without scrambling it since it’s been tempered with the pasta water. If the sauce is still too thick, you can add more pasta water — but since you add a little with the peas, I would be careful not to add too much! I’d also suggest topping it with more parmesan cheese when serving if it’s in your budget! Enjoy! I hope you love it! ~ Marion :)
I’ll be adding this recipe to my regular rotation. It was so easy to make and delicious. Can’t wait to have it again.