The weather here in South Western Ontario today is snowy and very cold! Remedy? A nice hot bowl of Pasta Piselli to warm our bellies! Extra bonus – the kids love it, yay! This is a pasta dish but eats almost like a soup. After simmering away for an hour, these few simple ingredients burst with flavour. Time here is the difference between eating some bland pasta with some peas and tomatoes versus eating a satisfying bowl of unified flavours!
Pasta e piselli is common throughout Italy. This Calabrese version is with tomatoes and is almost soup-like. Other variations do not add tomatoes and some are made with broth. This of course is my favourite since mamma’s is always better:) You can use any pasta you like but it is best with tubetti or little shells. Pasta plays a secondary role in this dish – it is all about the peas so don’t add too much pasta! We’ve purposefully omitted the amount of pasta as it really comes down to preference.
The wonderful smell of these peas cooking away and the great taste conjures up childhood memories for sure! As a kid I always wondered why we froze tomatoes even though we made so many jars of sauce and tomato pieces. I tell you though, there is no other ‘preserving’ that is easier and so handy to have over the cold months. They impart such a fresh flavour to soups, stews, and sauces that it’s more a question of why wouldn’t you freeze tomatoes! Give it a shot this summer when your garden is overflowing. We say roma tomatoes but I’ve often found myself with an abundance of cherry and beefsteak tomatoes as well that I just wash and throw in a freezer bag. A minute in a bowl of warm water and the skin comes right off!
Shelling peas wasn’t a favourite task on the other hand. For one, we weren’t allowed to roam the pea patch and pick some when we wanted. And two, we didn’t just shell a basket of peas; it would be like 3-4 bushels! A keen eye kept watch to make sure we weren’t eating them all throughout this process! I get it now – pea plants can be quite delicate and if you pull on the plant haphazardly you can damage the plant and prevent the peas from maturing. I have been sure to show my kids how to keep one hand on the vine as they remove the pea pod with the other. Even so, I keep a keen eye on the patch too now. It’s hard to grow enough peas for such a large harvest in a home garden so I let them eat the peas fresh and go for quality frozen peas during the winter nowadays.
I am so glad that I learned early on the importance of taking the time to prepare my freezer for the winter months. It is so satisfying to enjoy the fresh taste of our own or locally grown produce all year round! Try out this recipe and let us know what you think. It makes enough for 6-8 people but if you don’t need it all you can freeze some, without the pasta, for another time!
A hot bowl of Italian comfort food featuring tubetti pasta and peas!
⅓ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups diced onion (1 medium onion)
6 large frozen roma tomatoes, skins removed (or canned plum tomatoes or 1 cup tomato puree)
2 tsps salt, separated
5 cups frozen peas
5 cups boiling water
Tubetti or other small-cut pasta (quantity to your preference)
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Heat the oil over high heat and add the onion.
- Cook for 2 minutes then lower to medium-high heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and 1 tsp salt.
- Simmer for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are completely broken down.
- Add the peas, stir together and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Add the boiling water and lower the heat.
- Cook at a simmering boil for 1 hour.
- Cook your desired amount of pasta until al-dente. Remember, there should be more peas than pasta! A third of a cup of raw tubetti per serving is our recommended amount.
- Add the other tsp of salt to the peas, stir, and then shut off.
- Drain the pasta leaving a touch of the pasta water in.
- Add the pasta to the peas if using it all at once. Otherwise, add the appropriate amount of peas to the pasta and conserve the remainders in the fridge or freezer.
- Eat immediately.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: pasta, soup
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pasta, peas, italian, soup, piselli