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This flavorful pasta with peas is a quick and easy meal that comes together in just 20 minutes! It’s got a bright flavor from lemon and a satisfying, creamy texture from mashed peas.

Pasta with Peas on a plate with serving spoon and lemon slices.
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Peas may have been an underappreciated vegetable in the past. But what’s not to love about this bright and beautiful veggie? With all the spring vegetables popping, we’ve been craving a simple way to eat peas. Enter this easy pasta with peas recipe, ready in just 20 minutes with a handful of ingredients!

What we love about this zingy pasta with peas

This pasta with peas recipe is a simple pasta recipe we created using frozen peas. To be clear, it’s not pasta e piselli, a traditional Italian dish starring both pasta and green peas that’s brothy, more like a soup. We wanted to create a recipe that was more pasta and less soup, and this rendition was born! Here are a few things we love about it:

  • The flavor is fresh, zingy and positively delightful. You’ll mash some of the peas with capers, lemon, garlic, and Pecorino cheese to make a creamy sauce, then add additional peas and garnish with more Pecorino.
  • It’s a simple pasta that incorporates fiber and protein. This mighty legume does both: and tastes incredible with garlic, lemon, and Pecorino cheese! It shines in spring, but since it’s made with frozen peas you can make it anytime.
  • It’s fast. It comes together in just 20 minutes, making it a truly easy pasta recipe (some recipes claim that, but don’t turn out to be!).

Key ingredients

Ingredients for pasta with peas: frozen peas, lemon zest, capers, olive oil, Pecorino Romano cheese, garlic and pasta.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this pasta with peas rendition, with some notes on what kind of substitutions work here.

  • Frozen peas: Frozen peas are a freezer staple that is easy to access all year long. This recipe would be fantastic with fresh peas; simply boil them for 1 minute before making this recipe.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil helps to sauté the garlic and make a creamy sauce.
  • Pecorino Romano cheese: Pecorino has the best salty, aged flavor and is worth seeking out. Substitute Parmesan plus a few pinches of salt, or vegan Parmesan cheese for vegan. 
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic makes the flavors sing.
  • Capers: Capers are sold in thin jars near olives in the grocery store. They add a briny pop of salt to the recipe and are important to include.
  • Lemon zest: The zest brings a citrusy zing to this recipe: it’s another required element!
  • Short pasta of choice: You can use any type of short pasta. We love it with cavatelli, which means “little hollows” in Italian (below). Other short pasta shape ideas are orecchiette, penne, rigatoni, or fusilli.
Dry cavatelli pasta.

Tip: save that pasta water!

💡In many Italian pasta recipes, you’ll use some of the pasta water to create a creamy sauce: but we often forget and drain the pasta without thinking!

A good trick for remembering to save out the pasta water? Once you start the pasta, place the strainer in the sink and a liquid measuring cup inside the strainer. It will remind you before you drain the pasta!

Notes for making the recipe

Here are a few notes for when you go to make pasta with peas:

  • This recipe requires mashing the peas with a potato masher to create a chunky sauce. For a creamier texture, you can blend the peas in a processor before adding them to the skillet. Feel free to adjust the amount of lemon juice and zest to your liking.
  • Don’t omit the garnish! Another drizzle of olive oil adds richness, and garnishing with a bit of Pecorino helps to bring that cheese flavor forward.
Pasta with peas on plate with serving spoon, peas, and lemons.

Storing leftovers and serving size notes

This pasta with peas recipe is best made right before serving, because the flavors most fresh and zingy right away! As the pasta cools and after storage, it starts to lose a bit of the flavor and texture.

Leftovers last up to 2 days refrigerated. Reheat in a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and more Pecorino cheese.

A few more peas recipes

There are so many fun ways to use green peas! This underappreciated legume adds both protein and fiber to meals, making it great for serving with pasta. Here are a few more peas recipes to try:

Dietary notes

This pasta with peas recipe is vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free or legume pasta. For vegan, use vegan Parmesan cheese.

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Pasta with Peas on a plate with serving spoon and lemon slices.

Pasta with Peas


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 1x

Description

This flavorful pasta with peas is a quick and easy meal that comes together in just 20 minutes! It’s got a bright flavor from lemon and a satisfying, creamy texture from mashed peas.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 ounces short pasta (we like cavatelli)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ½ cups frozen peas, thawed for about a minute under warm water, divided
  • 1 ½ tablespoons capers, drained
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese*
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente, according to the package instructions (check a few minutes before and taste to assess doneness). Reserve ½ cup of pasta water before draining**.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds. Add 1 ½ cups of the peas, capers, dried thyme and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and sauté for about 3 minutes until they’re bright green and tender.
  3. Turn off the heat. Add ¼ cup of reserved pasta water and use a fork or a potato masher to lightly mash the peas in the skillet, creating a chunky mixture. Add the remaining 1 cup peas and stir until warmed through.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the skillet with the Pecorino, lemon zest, lemon juice, capers, and kosher salt and black pepper. Toss to combine, adding a splash of the reserved pasta water if needed to achieve a creamy consistency.
  5. Season with salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve warm, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil (required) and additional grated Pecorino cheese (optional). Leftovers last up to 2 days refrigerated, but it tastes best fresh. 

Notes

*Pecorino has the best salty, aged flavor and is worth seeking out. Substitute Parmesan plus a few more pinches salt, or vegan Parmesan cheese for vegan. 

**A good trick for remembering to save out the pasta water? Once you start the pasta, place the strainer in the sink and a liquid measuring cup inside the strainer. It will remind you before you drain the pasta!

Notes: For a creamier texture, you can blend the peas in a processor before adding them to the skillet. Feel free to adjust the amount of lemon juice and zest to your liking, depending on how bright and citrusy you prefer the dish.

Add ins: This recipe can be easily customized by adding other vegetables, such as sautéed spinach or asparagus, or by topping with crispy pancetta or prosciutto for a salty, meaty flavor.

  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Pasta
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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2 Comments

  1. Pat Dickson says:

    This looks so good! I am wondering if there is enough protein in this recipe. We as seniors need to make sure that we get enough protein in each meal. If it is light on protein, can you suggest what we can add to bump it up?

    thank you!

  2. Jay C. Hansen says:

    Like sitting on peas and noodles (apologies to Shari Lewis).