My Grandma was an incredible cook. Her meatballs and gravy are legendary, to this day. I’ve tackled both many times and I think my meatballs are pretty close, but it’s impossible to know for sure. I’d probably always prefer hers.
One of my favorite things to eat at Grandma’s was peas and macaroni. Now, I was a kid that didn’t eat peas that much. I have no idea why this dish appealed to me, but it did. When I’m really missing my Grandma, I make this dish. And it’s really comforting on a cold night and if you pair it with another Grandma staple, iceberg lettuce with oil and vinegar dressing, it’s like being transported to her kitchen.
When Grandma served it, it was never the main dish, in fact we usually had chicken cutlets with it, but I’d always eat at least two bowls of it. I never asked her how to make it and I don’t think she kept recipes (does anyone know?) So I’ve pieced this together after some trial and error. The good thing is that this is a simple recipe with few ingredients, so it was easy to put together.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1T butter unsalted
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I keep a tube of tomato paste for recipes like this that don’t use much)
1 15 oz can no salt added peas, with liquid
1 15 oz can low sodium chicken broth OR two cups of low sodium chicken stock
8 oz pasta (ditalini or any tiny pasta you like. Stars, baby shells. It just has to be small)
salt and pepper to taste
- Saute the onions and garlic olive oil (sometimes I add a little butter) and sweat them. Don’t brown.
- When veggies are cooked, add the tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the can of peas with liquid and chicken stock
- Bring to a simmer.
- Add red pepper flakes if you want
- Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
- Serve with shaved or grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiana Reggiano (In my opinion, this MAKES the dish)