Pasta e patate, or pasta and potatoes is a simple and budget-friendly way to use up pantry staples, such as potatoes, and mismatched smaller pasta shapes. Started with pancetta, and cooked with a touch of tomato, this meal is wonderful when topped with grated cheese and good extra virgin olive oil.
The night before we do our food shopping, there's usually little left in our refrigerator.
On these nights, we can choose to either order food and spend over $50, or we can make a more economical choice and prepare a dish like pasta e patate or paste e lenticchie.
Because we almost always have pancetta in our fridge and potatoes in our pantry, this is the perfect meal for nights like this.
And it presents the opportunity to use leftover smaller pasta shapes, such as ditalini, small shells, and broken spaghetti or linguine.
It's the waste-not, want-not mentality that begat pasta and potatoes, and we're happy to pass our family's recipe on to you.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Begin by dicing (basically small cubes) 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes. Also, slice 4 cloves of garlic, dice a ¼ pound of pancetta, and dice 1 medium onion.
- In a large pan over medium heat saute pancetta for about 7 minutes or until most of the fat has been rendered in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Turn heat to medium-low and add in the onion. Note: You can omit the pancetta and just use 2-3 more tablespoons of olive oil.
- Saute the onion for about 5 minutes or until soft, then add in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons salt per gallon of water) to boil for the pasta.
- If you like it spicy add a ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes and cook in the oil for 30 seconds, then add the potatoes into the pan and mix everything together.
- Turn the heat to medium and cook the potatoes for 5 minutes, making sure to coat them with olive oil and pancetta fat. Season the potatoes with a touch of salt then add in 3 ounces of tomato paste.
- Fry the paste for 5 minutes with the potatoes, mixing constantly to distribute, then add in 2 cups of water and cover.
- While the potatoes are softening up, begin boiling your pasta in the large pot of salted boiling water.
- Add the al dente pasta to the pan making sure to reserve at least 3 cups of pasta water. Turn off the heat and mix together very well. Now is the time to taste test and season with salt and pepper to get the flavor just right. If you like it on the soupy side add some of the reserved pasta water. Pasta e patate can be enjoyed very dry or on the soupy side. The choice is yours! Make sure to serve with plenty of grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil onto each bowl would be a good idea along with some Calabrian chili paste or crushed red pepper. Enjoy!
Pasta e patate ingredient variations
Because this dish serves as a means for using up pantry items, don't feel obligated to use a specific type of pasta, potato, or even pancetta!
You can use any smallish pasta shape, such as ditalini or tubetti, small bowties, small shells, broken spaghetti or linguini, or any combination of these.
As for the potatoes, russets or Yukon golds would be fine.
If you don't have pancetta on hand, you could definitely use bacon, or just olive oil for additional fat.
Additionally, you could also add fresh herbs, such as parsley, or rosemary to this pasta and potatoes recipe.
Our favorite addition is Calabrian chili paste as it adds a bit of heat.
Feel free to experiment with what you have on hand!
More pantry meals you'll love
We adore budget-friendly pantry pastas here at Sip and Feast! If you do too, you'll love these other pantry pastas:
- Shells with pancetta and peas - Easy dish with small pasta, pancetta, onions, and peas.
- Pasta e ceci - Pasta with chickpeas in a tomato-based broth with onions, garlic, and rosemary.
- Italian lentil soup - carrots, onions, celery, and lentils join together in this budget-friendly soup.
- Pasta al tonno - canned or jarred yellowfin tuna with pasta, garlic, olive oil, and parsley.
- Linguine aglio e olio - just the basics - garlic, olive oil, pasta, red pepper flakes, and parsley
- Pasta e piselli - similar to pasta e patate but with peas instead of potatoes
- Pasta con broccoli - garlic and broccoli sauteed and tossed with orecchiette pasta
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- 1 pound small pasta ditalini, small shells, elbows, etc
- 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes small cubed, about 2 pounds worth
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ pound pancetta diced
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 3 cups reserved pasta water will not need it all
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pan over medium heat saute pancetta for 7 minutes in olive oil. Turn heat to medium-low and add in the onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes then add in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water (2 tablespoons salt per gallon of water) to boil for the pasta.
- Turn pan heat back to medium and add the potatoes and saute for 5 minutes mixing well. Season the potatoes with a bit of salt. Add in the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring frequently.
- Add 2 cups of water to the potatoes, cover, and keep cooking to further soften the potatoes.
- When the potatoes are almost soft, but not yet fork-tender, cook your pasta to al dente then add to the pan. Reserve all the pasta water.
- Taste test and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and if desired add some of the reserved pasta water. The dish can be served on the soupy side or quite dry.
- Serve with grated cheese and hot red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
- Pasta e patate can be served on the soupy side or very dry. Make sure to reserve plenty of pasta water.
- Pancetta can be omitted. Just use more olive oil.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium heat until warm.