Tagliatelle pasta with fresh peas and pancetta; recipe from Veneto.
Pasta coi bisi!
Pasta with fresh peas, or ‘pasta coi bisi’ in local dialect, is a traditional spring recipe here in the Northern Italian region of Veneto. This simple pasta dish is more than the sum of its parts, which are few! In fact, the first time I had this dish I was really quite surprised how tasty it is. Of course, the secret ingredient is fresh peas!
In Veneto, a number of towns or areas are famous for their peas, in particular an area of the Berici hills near Vicenza. Here, there is a local variety of peas that they say are the best peas in Italy. Lumignano peas have been grown in this part of Veneto since 1000 AD and were introduced to the area by Benedictine monks.
These peas have apparently been prized for centuries. The Doges of Venice used to order them as the primary ingredient of their ‘Risi e Bisi’ (rice and peas). A dish that was traditionally served to the Doges on the Feast of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice. Risi e Bisi is still a traditional way that peas are served here in Veneto.
I love the rural Italian tradition of holding annual festivals to celebrate the harvest of the main local crop. I live in the wine producing area of Soave. Soave is a beautiful Medieval walled town with a castle and every year there is the local wine festival, which we happily attend!. The area I live in is famous for cherries too, so there are also cherry festivals held annually in a number of local villages!
Many of the towns and villages where peas are cultivated hold annual pea festivals (sagra dei bisi) in May. The Lumignano festival is usually held in mid-May. Among others, there’s also the ‘festa dei bisi di Baone’ in the Euganean hills area near Padova and closer to where I live the ‘sagra dei bisi’ in Colognola ai Colli. Visitors to these festivals can buy and eat a number of traditional pea based dishes. The most popular are the rice and peas I mentioned before, as well as pasta with fresh peas made the same way as in this recipe.
Making pasta with fresh peas.
This tagliatelle pasta with fresh peas is super simple to make. All you need for the sauce is fresh peas, pancetta, onions and vegetable stock. Some people use beef stock but I prefer vegetable. After frying the onion and pancetta, you simply add the peas and the stock and let the peas cook in the liquid. The result is really tasty. I don’t think frozen or tinned peas would work so well as fresh peas take longer to cook and this is necessary for them to absorb the other flavours and for the sauce to thicken.
Fresh peas are so good for you!
Of course, buying fresh peas normally means having to shell them. But, it’s definitely worth doing if you want to experience the authentic taste of this dish. Kids usually like shelling them and that might motivate them to eat them too! So, get them to help! Fresh peas are much healthier anyway. They contain a long list of vitamins and nutrients some of which may be lost when the peas are canned or frozen .
If you make this tagliatelle pasta with fresh peas recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Other spring pasta recipes.
- Fusilli with asparagus
- Poached salmon and asparagus lasagne al forno
- Gargati pasta with spring ragu
- Green pasta salad with edible flowers
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A delicious spring pasta and peas recipe from Northern Italy that is simple to make and very tasty!
- 400 g tagliatelle pasta (14oz) you can use fresh or dried tagliatelle or other ribbon pasta like lasagnette. I used Giovanni Rana fresh tagliatelle
- 800 g fresh peas (1.5lbs)
- 1-2 spring onions (large)
- 80 g pancetta (3oz) cut into cubes
- 1 cup vegetable stock you can also use beef
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 handful fresh parsley chopped
- 50 g Parmigiano Reggiano or grana (2oz) grated
- salt for pasta and to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1 knob butter
Shell and wash the peas. Cut the pancetta into small cubes, peel and finely chop the spring onion and chop a handful of parsley.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan or skillet and add the onion, pancetta and parsley. Cook over a low heat until the onion softens and the pancetta turns pink, add the peas and a cup of broth.
Season with salt (not too much as pancetta is quite salty) and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the peas are tender and the sauce thickens. About 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil some water in a saucepan for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. Fresh pasta only needs about 3 minutes..
Drain the pasta. add it to the pan with the sauce and add a knob of butter and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Mix everything together well and serve.
I like to fry some extra pancetta until it gets crispy and add it to the plate before serving! But you can also make this dish without pancetta for a vegetarian version.
I used fresh tagliatelle from Giovanni Rana but other pasta ribbons, such as lasagnette or pappardelle are traditional too. You can also use short pasta like penne.
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This recipe was originally published in 2018 but has been updated.