Penne Pasta with Petite Peas and Onions in a Creamy Mascarpone Sauce

This is a quick meal that will save you on a busy evening. It’s so simple it also makes a great weekend lunch. Fresh flavors and plenty of creamy sauce to coat the al dente penne pasta. You start by sautéing the onions and peas in a pan with good olive oil. Then add a little butter, mascarpone cheese, and fresh basil leaves. This creates a creamy peasy yummy sauce that coats the pasta like blanket. The secret to creating a smooth and creamy sauce is adding a little of the reserved pasta water. The starches from the pasta act as a binding agent to make it all come together smoothly. Don’t wait another minute to serve this dish to your loved ones. It makes from a delicious leftovers- if there are any!

Made with Amore,

pasta recipe- peas- mascarpone

Penne! Penne!

Penne (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpenːe]) is a type of pasta with cylinder-shaped pieces, their ends cut at a bias. Penne is the plural form of the Italian penna (meaning feather but pen as well), deriving from Latin penna (meaning “feather” or “quill”), and is a cognate of the English word pen. I love use penne for this recipe since the hole allows for the sauce to sneak inside. If you don’t have any on hand feel free to use another variety.

Here is a link to the best deal I’ve found for purchasing my favorite Barilla Brand Penne Pasta. Enjoy! I always buy pasta in bulk even with the high quality brands. I never want to run out of pasta. That is an all time Italian fear!

Pasta and peas with mascarpone

Peas Matter…

For this recipes I highly recommend the ‘petite’ peas or ‘baby’ sweet peas variety. Compared to the standard green pea, petite peas are smaller in stature with a more tender skin, and a delicately sweet flavor. They are also less starchy and simply, better :). Since peas are the highlight of this dish it’s important to pick the right ones to create the taste and texture you desire.

Mascarpone Cheese and Fresh Basil …

Right before the peas are finished cooking you will stir in the mascarpone cheese and fresh basil. The mascarpone adds a slightly sweet flavor and takes the peas to the next level. The sprinkle of basil adds a fresh and bright flavor to round out the dish perfectly. It makes for a delicious and creamy sauce with a fresh taste.

I like to add freshly grated parmigiano cheese at the end of this dish. Read this post to learn more about why I grate my own cheese!

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Onion Variety

Red onions have a deep purple skin and reddish flesh, but do they really taste different than yellow onions? They are quite like yellow onions in flavor when cooked, and slightly milder when served raw. Their deep color is what makes these attractive added to salads, and other foods for presentation. But once these onions are cooked, they taste very nearly the same as the yellow onion and can be used in recipes to substitute yellow onions (or vice-versa … use yellow onions to substitute red onions. (Source: Market Basket Foods).

I like to switch it up and use red onions to add a little color to contrast the green peas and white sauce!

From my cucina (kitchen) to your table… Made with LOVE!

Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!)

More Recipes for YOU:

Italian Petite Peas Side dish

Osso Buco Recipe

Lemon Asparagus and Ricotta Pasta

Baked Salmon with Potatoes and Herb Oil Dressing

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pasta recipe- peas- mascarpone

Penne Pasta and Peas Recipe with Mascarpone Cheese

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian


This is a quick meal that will save you on a busy evening. It’s so simple it also makes a great weekend lunch. Fresh flavors and plenty of creamy sauce to coat the al dente penne pasta. 


  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (16 oz/ 1 lb.) bag frozen petite peas
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian basil, torn by hand
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 8 oz (250 grams) Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 lb (454grams) Barilla Penne Pasta  
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated parmigiano cheese 


  1.  Bring 6 quarts water to a boil and add 3 Tbs kosher salt
  2. Heat a large sauté pan to on medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until translucent and slightly brown in color. Add the frozen peas and cook 10 minutes until cooked, but no mushy. Add the mascarpone and and butter then turn heat to low. Stir for 2 minutes until sauce is creamy. Turn off heat and stir in basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3.  Add pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and add to pan with peas and mascarpone. Stir well to coat pasta. Add pasta water and stir to combine. Cover and let sit 2-3 minutes before serving so sauce can thicken. Serve HOT and add extra parmigiano.

Keywords: pasta, penne pasta, petite peas, mascarpone cheese, onions and peas, easy dinner, 20 minute meal, Italian recipe