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. 

Wooden spoon holding pasta and potatoes.

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.

Ingredients shown: mixed pasta in bowl, potatoes, tomato pasta, pancetta, onion, and garlic.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Begin by dicing (basically small cubes) 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes. Also, slice 4 cloves of garlic, dice a 1/4 pound of pancetta, and dice 1 medium onion.

Pasta e patate recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. If you like it spicy add a 1/2 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.
  2. 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.

Recipe process shot collage group number three.

  1. Fry the paste for 5 minutes with the potatoes, mixing constantly to distribute, then add in 2 cups of water and cover.
  2. While the potatoes are softening up, begin boiling your pasta in the large pot of salted boiling water.

Recipe process shot collage group number four.

  1. 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 is perfect served alongside a salad such as this amazing green salad, or an orange fennel salad.  

Pasta e patate in large black pan with block of Pecorino in background.

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!

Hands holding bowl of pasta with potatoes.

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

If you’ve enjoyed this pasta e patate recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.

Some people learn by watching.  If you’re that type of person, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook Page.

Pasta e Patate

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
40 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Diced potatoes, pancetta, mismatched pasta, and a touch of tomato form this simple pantry pasta that's perfect for any night of the week!


  • 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
  • 1/4 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.


Calories: 787kcal | Carbohydrates: 124.1g | Protein: 29.2g | Fat: 212.4g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 689mg | Potassium: 1299mg | Fiber: 10.3g | Sugar: 7.2g | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!Check us out on Instagram at @sipandfeast or tag #sipandfeast!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Michael Rosen says:

    Aloha James
    I made this tonight and it was delish. I did add some fennel seed in the mix which seemed to give the dish a little “spark” along with the red pepper flake. Definitely a keeper- like so many of your other recipes!
    The other day I made your beef barley soup , but I decided to use egg noodles instead of barley….my mistake! lol

    1. James says:

      Hi Michael, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed it!

  2. RBel says:

    5 stars
    James, my husband‘s grandmother made this recipe 50 years ago and I have been searching for a recipe that will come as close to her recipe so that I can make it for him. Your recipe fit the bill! The only thing that I don’t believe she put in her recipe was the pancetta but it is a very good suggestion! Your videos are very easy to follow and very succinct. I also love that your children are your taste testers at the end! Your videos are outstanding. I do have one suggestion for Tara. You are such a good cook for your family that I think that you are deserving of a Dutch oven made by Le Creuset! I would also like to tell you that your spaghetti pie is the exact recipe that was my mother’s that she used to make for us before she passed. It brings back a lot of memories! Keep making those videos and we will watch them!

    1. Jim says:

      Thank you so much for the comment and we’re so happy you enjoyed this recipe and the videos! It’s nice to hear that these recipes are helping to create a connection to the past for you and we appreciate you sharing that with us.

  3. Nancy says:

    5 stars
    OMG!! you bring me back to my mom’s cooking everytime. I remember my mom would take different pasta ‘s (left over in boxes) and make this dish. She never wrote any of her recipes down. My mom was a great cook. She passed 12 yrs. ago this month on the 30th. When I saw this it choked me up. She was a great Italian cook made everything homemade. Grew up on so many of your italian recipes. Thanks for the memories. LOL I miss real Pasta I was diagnosed Gluten Free at age 67 just couldn’t handle flour and soy. For an Italian it is a curse. But I am coping with some pretty good gluten free pasta. Thank you for sharing your great receipes.

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Nancy, thank you for this wonderful comment-it means so much! I’m so happy you are enjoying the recipes. There are definitely some good GF pastas out there and glad you’ve been able to find some. My wife loves Banza’s linguine.