Smashing Peas: Pasta with Smashed Peas and Ricotta

Retouched Smashed Peas

Pasta with smashed peas and ricotta

Pasta with Smashed Peas and Ricotta

My mom is visiting. There are many states between us and never enough visits. Not only do I miss her, but I miss her cooking.

After years of trekking to the desert to see me, one thing I can count on is that when my mom visits, she’ll make many of the made-from-scratch dishes and breads I grew up eating. The ones that simmer for hours with tantalizing aromas. The ones that first take time to rise or marinade or soak. These are the ones I crave and no matter how many times I try to duplicate them, they don’t come within reach of tasting like hers.

A typical visit to the desert

Another thing I can count on is that my mom will run circles around me in the “boundless energy” category. She is almost 80 years old and has always had a high energy level, which never ceases to amaze me (or anyone else). It’s an interesting contrast — her on-the-go nature and the extended amount of time it takes to prepare some of her dishes. It doesn’t make sense but that’s the way it is.

One typically sunny day during her visit, we spent several hours hiking and shopping (two of her favorite activities in Phoenix). By the end of the day we were interested in a quick-prep dinner at home. I had found an easy recipe in Real Simple, “Pasta with Smashed Peas,” and thought it would be a good choice to pair with our hunger and impatience.

Make it fast, filling and fresh

The recipe was as easy as they come and I only changed a few things: I used whole-wheat pasta, lemon-infused olive oil and eliminated the herbs. The peas and lemon flavor gave the meal a fresh, springtime taste and the amount of ricotta cheese was just enough to keep it from turning into a heavy, why-did-I-eat-that, creamy dish.

Even though this meal didn’t require extended time to simmer, stew or bake, it was perfect — light yet filling. We used the extra time after dinner to relax and visit.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple magazine

Recipe for Pasta with Smashed Peas and Ricotta:

Makes 6-8 servings


  • 1 pound pappardelle, tagliatelle, fettuccine or linguini
  • 1, 16-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, pulse the thawed peas in a food processor or blender until chopped (take care not to puree). Add ½ cup ricotta, salt and pepper to the peas and pulse to mix everything together.
  3. Drain the pasta and reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. Put the pasta back in the pot.
  4. Add the peas to the cooking water and to the pot and toss together.
  5. Arrange the pasta in a large bowl or platter, and top with the remaining ricotta and sprinkle with the chives.
  6. Drizzle the olive oil over top. Serve in individual bowls, making sure to distribute the ricotta cheese topping with some in each bowl.
Makes 6-8 servings


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