This is the second in a series of posts about traditional, Depression-era Italian dishes which were introduced to me by my wife’s family when we were dating

One of the simplest and to my mind, best dishes that I’ll feature in this series is Pasta and Peas. I was first treated to this dish in my (future) mother in law’s kitchen over 30 years ago. Coming from a meat ‘n potatoes background, my reaction was one of curiosity and frankly, skepticism. Macaroni – and PEAS? Uh, where’s the meat? But I put aside my misgivings and discovered that this dish, served with a little cheese and bread on the side, is wonderful.

Don’t skimp on the seasoning; serve – if you wish – with a medium bodied white wine.


  • 1 can of peas
  • ~3/4 lb. ditallini pasta
  • 1 small to medium onion
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

The Recipe:

  • Slice the onion
  • Heat 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil in a pan; add the onion
  • Cook until the onion is translucent
  • Add the can of peas including the liquid
  • Cook pasta in salted water
  • When pasta is cooked, drain and add to the onion/oil/peas mixture
  • Mix thoroughly and season to taste

Serves 3-4

To visit the first article in this series, click here.

2/09 Edit: I came across this charming video of 91 year old Clara making her version of Pasta and Peas; it’s slightly different from my wife’s family’s recipe, but looks good:

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1 Comment on Traditional Italian dish #2: Pasta and Peas – frugal, meatless, delicious!

  1. love ur fugal recipes!…and yes they r exactly like my grammy’s.yummy!
    I never apreciated them growing up,always wanted my friends had.
    but grammy died before i grew up to really apreciate the foods she cooked (living threw the depression).
    my favorite is the lental and mac. thank you


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