Delicious, quick and simple - Pea & Pancetta Pasta

Pancetta is one of those amazing Italian cured meats, there are so many, and whilst you can substitute it with bacon (in a pinch) it is most definitely not the same.  Whilst they are both from the pork belly, pancetta is salted and then aged and whilst mostly used in cooked recipes it can be eaten ‘raw’ as it has been cured, like a salami or a parma ham.  Bacon on the other hand is salted and then smoked and does require cooking before eating.

The big difference lies in the flavour, the longer and slower aging process of pancetta means it has a stronger flavour and less is more.  I buy my pancetta in bulk and store it in the freezer, if vacuum packed it lasts forever.  With pancetta you want a slow fry to start to help all the lovely fats to render and infuse whatever recipes you are making.  Use it as a starting point for a ragu or soups and stews or use it in a Quiche Lorraine, it adds loads of flavour to Pancetta, Cheese & Herb muffins without the need to add loads of chopped up meat.

This is a dead simple recipe that allows the flavour of the pancetta to shine, by starting with a slow render the flavour permeates the entire dish, the addition of peas complements and completes the recipe.  Plus, as with great pasta recipes it is super quick to make (it takes as long as the pasta does to cook) and only has a few ingredients.

If you can’t get your hands on pancetta, you can use bacon, but you will want to double it and allow it to render nicely, the flavour will be good but not the same.

Pea & Pancetta Penne

Recipe by Paul MacielCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 90gms cubed pancetta

  • ½ cup of frozen peas (Woolworths Petit Pois are ideal but not essential)

  • 200ml fresh cream

  • 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

  • Salt & Pepper

  • 200gms penne


  • Start by cooking your pasta in about 2l of well salted water, cook to pack instructions
  • While the pasta is cooking add your cubed pancetta, a tablespoon of olive oil and a good crack of black pepper to a pan and cook over a medium high heat.  The amount of fat in the pan will double as the pancetta begins to render.
  • Once the pancetta is crispy and well rendered add your frozen peas and cook for about 30 seconds so that the peas can pick up the lovely flavours from the pancetta.
  • Now add your half cup of cream and freshly chopped parsley, depending on your pancetta you might need to add a crack of salt.
  • Reduce the cream slightly, and then add the pasta, toss to coat and then check seasoning, add some extra salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve with some parmesan


  • If you can’t get your hands on pancetta, you can use bacon, you will want to use streaky bacon and double the quantity, be sure to allow it to render nicely, the flavour will be good but different.