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Creamy Shells with Peas and Bacon in a cast iron skillet
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4.29 from 7 votes

Creamy Pasta Shells with Bacon and Peas

Like a grown-up version of mac and cheese, this creamy weeknight-friendly pasta is equal parts familiar and cozy with a bit of fancy thrown in. Creamy Bacon and Pea Pasta Shells have a fresh pop of flavor from sweet peas and the crunch of savory bacon in every bite. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Dish
Keyword: easy pasta dinner, one-pan pasta, weeknight-friendly
Servings: 4
Calories: 491kcal
Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $7.00

Equipment

  • Stockpot
  • Skillet

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Frozen Peas
  • 8 oz Pasta, small shells (sub any other type of pasta)
  • 6 slices Bacon
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Diced Shallots
  • cup Creme Fraiche
  • 2 tsp Lemon Zest
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, for serving
  • Parmesan Cheese, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Defrost peas in the microwave until slightly warm. Drain off any excess water.
  • Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. (Important: When pasta is almost done cooking, use a measuring cup to remove and reserve ½ cup of pasta water. You may need some of this to thin the sauce.)
  • While pasta is cooking, heat a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat. When hot, add bacon and sauté until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Drain off all but a thin layer of bacon grease from the pan.
  • Reduce heat under the pan to low-medium.
  • Add butter and shallots and saute until shallots are very tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • To shallots, stir in peas and cook for 1 minute.
  • Move pan off heat.
  • Add pasta, crème fraîche, and lemon zest to pan and stir everything to combine. (Note: If the sauce is quite thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water until sauce is creamy and smooth. I usually only need about a Tablespoon of water.)
  • Top pasta with cooked bacon, black pepper, and some parmesan cheese.

Notes

Bacon - I find it easier to cook the bacon if it’s already chopped. More chopped bacon can fit in the pan than slices and it cooks more quickly. However, if you prefer to just add full strips of bacon to the skillet and cook them on both sides (then crumble it over the finished dish). 
Creme Fraiche - Creme Fraiche is a creamy, sour dairy product that is similar to sour cream but has a much thicker texture and a richer flavor. Look for it in the dairy section, often near other soft, specialty cheeses (like ricotta, mascarpone, or perhaps near the goat cheese and fresh mozzarella). 

Nutrition

Calories: 491kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 280mg | Potassium: 395mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 833IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2mg