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Pasta With Peas, Pancetta and Goat Cheese

June 11, 2024

Speckled with emerald-green, sweet peas and crisp, savory nuggets of pancetta, this creamy penne pasta with peas, pancetta and goat cheese is springtime in a bowl.


Pasta With Peas Pancetta And Goat Cheese in a bowl with serving spoon

Penne Pasta With Tangy Chevré And Springy Peas? Yes Please!

This luscious, creamy goat cheese penne recipe embodies the promise of spring, paired with the satisfyingly creamy, rib-sticking warmth that we are (for better or worse) still in need of—at least here in the Pacific Northwest.

ingredients laid out for Pasta With Peas Pancetta And Goat Cheese garlic, cream, chives, salt

The Springtime Dinner of Your Dreams

So—despite the fact that we’ve been ready and waiting since January—it’s still not quite flip flop weather. At least dinner can be springy, even if the forecast leaves a bit to be desired. This creamy penne with pancetta and peas is a burst of springtime thanks to:

  • Peas - You can use fresh peas if you’d like to, but good-quality frozen peas are just as good and certainly a time-saver.
  • Chèvre - Did you know that cheese is a seasonal food? While it’s true that (thanks to industrialized dairy production and big grocery stores) you can get most kinds of cheese year-round, fresh goat cheese is traditionally a cheese best enjoyed in the springtime. Spring means that goats have given birth and are once again making milk. They’re also grazing on lush spring pastures, which means their milk—and the cheese made from it—is extra rich and delicious.
  • Fresh chives - With their sweet and delicate oniony flavor, chives are an unsung hero of the vegetable-and-herb world. Use them, love them.
  • Garlic - OK, who are we kidding—garlic is a year-round thing for us. BUT! If you happen to see some garlic scapes at your local spring farmers market, you could slice them super thinly and toss them in with the fresh chives to make this pasta even that much more verdantly springy.
Pancetta frying in a pan with garlic
making a cream pasta sauce in a pan
making a cream based pasta sauce
showing finished cream sauce on a wooden spoon

How To Make Béchamel Sauce For Pasta:

Béchamel is one of the classic French so-called “Mother” sauces, and is simply a creamy white sauce made from the combination of roux (butter and flour) + milk. Though it sounds fancy, béchamel is actually quite an everyday food—if you’ve made macaroni and cheese, or lasagna, it’s likely you’ve made one before! If not, here’s how make a great, creamy béchamel:

  • Begin by melting butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add flour to create a roux. Whisk constantly for a minute or two. Whisking action plus heat will allow the butter and flour to form a paste, and to cook the rawness out of your flour (which is a good thing).
  • Slowly, slowly, steadily add whole milk to the roux, whisking constantly. You want to really incorporate the milk into the roux—to bring all three elements together into one cohesive, thick and creamy sauce. Constant stirring + heat = sauce.
  • Once you’ve added all of the milk, turn the heat down a bit and keep stirring as the sauce thickens. You’re looking for a finished sauce that is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.
  • Once it’s thickened, you can add whatever you’d like to it! In this case, pasta, goat cheese, pancetta and peas.
Adding goat cheese to cream sauce in a pan
adding peas, pancetta and chives to cream pasta sauce in a pan
stirring Pasta With Peas Pancetta And Goat Cheese in a pan

Pancetta vs. Bacon.

Pancetta is bacon’s Italian cousin. They’re very similar in that both are made from fatty pork belly, but pancetta is cured and bacon is smoked. Pancetta may be slightly harder to find than bacon, but it’s worth a little hunt if you’ve got the time. To prepare it, just cube it up—easier to do when the pancetta is very cold—and fry it in a small drizzle of oil. The fat in pancetta can take a little while to render out, so be patient. Fry until golden brown and until your house smells amazing. Place the fried pancetta cubes on a paper towel to cool as you prep the rest of the pasta. **Sub bacon for the pancetta when necesssary.

Pasta With Peas Pancetta And Goat Cheese in a serving dish

Or, Make It Vegetarian!

This springy, creamy pasta with peas can easily be made into a creamy vegetarian pasta, since the only meat-y thing in it is a bit of pancetta. If you’d like to up the richness factor to make up for leaving out the pancetta, just use a bit more goat cheese. Adding a little extra garlic is a great way to punch up the flavors, too.

close up of Pasta With Peas Pancetta And Goat Cheese and chives

Tools You’ll Need:

No real special tools needed here! Just:

Pasta With Peas Pancetta And Goat Cheese in a bowl with serving spoon
Pasta With Peas Pancetta And Goat Cheese in a bowl with serving spoon

So, Did You Make This Pasta with Pancetta and Peas?

We want to see your béchamel in action, your pancetta frying, your finished, creamy pea-and-pancetta pasta! Snap a photo, or even a video of the beautiful people you feed this pasta to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

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Pasta With Peas, Pancetta and Goat Cheese

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  25 min
  • Calories: 558


  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 5 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1½ cups frozen peas, thaws
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and salt it. Cook the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions. Drain.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, set over medium heat, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally until crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate.

  3. Add the butter to the skillet and melt it over medium heat. When the butter begins to bubble, add the garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the flour to form a paste, about 1 minute. Very slowly whisk in the milk. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking often, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add half of the goat cheese and the salt to the sauce and whisk until combined.

  5. Transfer the pasta back to the pot and stir in the sauce, peas and pancetta.

  6. Divide the pasta into bowls. Serve topped with remaining crumbled goat cheese, chives and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories558
  • Protein22 g
  • Carbohydrates72 g
  • Total Fat21 g
  • Dietary Fiber5 g
  • Cholesterol39 mg
  • sodium935 mg
  • Total Sugars8 g

Pasta With Peas, Pancetta and Goat Cheese

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Wendy

    Hi there! I'm not a big fan of peas; is there another vegetable I could substitute in place? Thank you!

    Asparagus would be yummy!

  • Laura

    Could you substitute almond milk for the whole milk?

    Hi Laura, We haven't tested this but we aren't sure the almond milk would thicken up the way whole milk does.

  • Erin

    Couldn’t find panchetta so used bacon. The teens even liked it but would love to try panchetta next. Think I burned the garlic though, should have waited for pan to be cooler maybe?

    Bacon is a great substitute but pancetta will be fun for you to try next time. We are so happy your family loved it! Thanks Erin!

  • Deana

    This was fantastic! Not as rich as I expected which was great. I used bacon because we had it - making this an easy dinner with items I will often have on hand. I did reduce the pasta to 3/4 of a pound and was happy with the end ratios. Our garden chives are in full force now and they added the perfect finish to this dish. Yum!

    Hi Deana, Thanks for the great comment! I love the swap for bacon and I'll admit, I often lower the amount of pasta to 3/4 lb! Take care!