This salty and slightly sweet pasta dish is packed with bacon, sweet peas and onions, and a ton of Parmesan cheese. This 5 ingredient easy pasta dish is a perfect one to make for a weeknight dinner for the family.
Let be real, a bad dish never started with bacon. In all seriousness though pasta and peas with bacon hits close to home and is ridiculously easy to make. Growing up in the 90’s in a non-Italian household pasta was either spaghetti or macaroni topped with Ragu meat sauce, and I am not talking about the homemade kind. We just weren’t pasta people, but also does anyone feel like there are just more options these days? My mother was known for making a handful of dishes really well, lasagna, taco meat, and this pea and bacon pasta dish. 20 years later it’s still one of my favorite simple pasta dishes. Maybe it’s the sweet onions and peas, but let’s be real it’s the bacon that makes this dish so great.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR PASTA AND PEAS WITH BACON
Pasta – Players choice here. I always had this dish with linguini, but feel free to swap it with your favorite shape or what you have lying in the pantry.
Bacon – Let’s talk bacon for a second. Personally I don’t like to use thick cut bacon for this dish. First off its impossible to get it super crispy, and second it takes so much longer to cook. Do yourself a favor, get standard cut run of the mill bacon. The bacon needs to be pan fried and chopped before putting this dish all together. This is the bulk of the work. Cook it in sections and don’t overcrowd the pan. When cooking the bacon, you want to cook it so you have a combo of both really crispy pieces as well as some fatty pieces as well. Do not overcook it! Call me crazy, but before you throw out that bacon grease STOP! You need it. You need to add the bacon grease (some not all) back in to cook the onions and peas and then some more when tossing the pasta.
Peas – Frozen is recommended however canned peas can work here. I find that canned peas are softer so if you go the canned route just be careful when you are folding in the pasta.
Parmesan Cheese – Freshly grated parmesan, HOWEVER growing up it was the powdered stuff you find in the non refrigerator section. This will probably be the only time I say this but If that’s all you have use it.
Wide Pan – Choose a pan that is wide enough to cook the bacon, as well as deep enough to toss a pound of pasta comfortably.
HOW TO MAKE PASTA AND PEAS WITH BACON
Cook off Bacon – In a wide pan / pot over medium heat cook off the bacon in batches. Depending on how large your pot is this may be 3-5 slices at a time. Cook until brown and crispy. Once finished place on the side to cook the next batch. When all the bacon is cooked and cooled rough chop and place on the side. Remove approx. 3/4 of the bacon fat from the pan and save on the side.
Put it Together – In the remaining bacon grease sauté onions with a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent, approx. 5-7 minutes. If the onions begin to brown lower the heat. Add the chopped bacon, and peas and give it a gentle toss. Add the cooked pasta, Parmesan cheese, and some of the bacon grease back in. The amount is completely up to you, I normally add about a tbsp or two depending how much I have left.
A QUESTION OR TWO YOU MAY HAVE
Can I cook my bacon in a separate pan? Yes, but make sure you reserve the bacon fat. If opting for this route add 1- 1 1/2 tbsp of the fat to the pan to cook the onions. If you need more add more.
Can I use pre-cooked bacon? No, you need the fat to bring the dish together, and you loose a lot of the fat when you buy precooked.
Can I substitute the bacon for something else? If you want to elevate this dish, pancetta is a great replacement.
Leftover pasta can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days. While I typically recommend you reheating pasta in a pan with a little bit of pasta water, this will probably leave the bacon unbelievably soggy. Best method of reheating is in the microwave for 30 second increments.
Looking for more ridiculously easy weeknight pasta dishes? Check out the below!