Posted by: Erica Retrochef | October 30, 2008

Pasta with Peas

I found this YouTube clip via Vegan Lunch Box. (I don’t remember how I found that blog, since I’m not a vegan, but anyway.) This video is totally awesome. Not only do you learn how to make Pasta with Peas, you hear a cool story about the Depression and bootleggers.

“It’s not expensive, and it’s nourishing” — the two centrally important features of Depression cooking.

So this is my heavily paraphrased transcription of Clara’s Pasta with Peas recipe.

Dice a potato. Dice an onion. Fry them in some oil for a while. Add water and let simmer. Add can of peas (including liquid). Add pasta. Add tomato sauce if you feel like it. Cook for a while. Eat.

This appeals to my haphazard cooking technique, because it’s rather vague about quantities. It means that while my engineering side is huddled in the corner sobbing because she needs defined limits on how much water to pour in, my disorganized side is cheerfully throwing things in the pot in the optimistic belief that it will turn out just fine. In things such as soups or stir fry, Engineering Side can just go dither somewhere else, we don’t need her right now. (I prefer the theory that a balanced approach to life is very healthy, as opposed to a sign of advanced MPD.)

Potato and Onion

The hardest part was cutting the potatoes and onions into pieces. And that’s really not that hard.

Fried Bits

I added some turkey bacon because it has been in my fridge too long, really needed to be eaten, and I figured it would help round out the dish.

Peas and Pasta added to Pot

Dump in a couple cups of water, peas, and dry pasta, then go sit somewhere for 10 minutes while it simmers. This is incredibly easy.

pasta with peas

It’s delicious. It didn’t need the turkey bacon (although the nice salty bits of meat did add variety). And it was totally awesome rewarmed the next day for lunch. Inexpensive, delicious, and with lots of room for variation — this is a totally great recipe. (And you’ll notice it was just a recipe that somebody made up, NOT some ridiculous concoction from Imaginary Expert at International Food Corp. That probably explains why it’s so edible.)



  1. Yeah, I’d lap that up.

  2. It was very good, although quite simple. The potatoes and pasta together make it a very starchy dish, but I don’t mind at all.

  3. Thanks so much for cluing me into the “Depression Cooking” videos! I’m definitely going to be showing those in my folklore class next semester. Extra props to Clara for buying canned goods that I’m guessing were dirt-cheap because they were missing their labels. That’s true Depression-era consumption!

  4. I must admit, I’ve never been a big fan of peas — but this looks really good. It helps that I love pasta!

  5. @Rose — I was very disappointed to see that Clara’s only posted three YouTube videos. (I’m saving the others for future Retro Recipe days 😉 ) They’re very cool on so many levels!

  6. That looks so good and comforting.

  7. Sounds very tasty indeed, but I personally would use frozen peas instead of canned (or fresh, if I can find them)

    • I think the flavor of the pea juice would be important. Plus, they didn’t have frozen peas during the Depression!

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