Like most good Italian-Americans, I grew up on pasta. Every Sunday, my mom would make her famous Sunday Gravy recipe, the traditional Italian pasta dish with a rich red sauce and meatballs (my mom always made it with spare ribs and Italian sausage). This pasta primavera version with pancetta makes a great little switch-up—and what a perfect way to enjoy some early spring veggies (with pasta…!) A true celebration of the season, especially if you like to shop at farmers markets, like me!

Fettuccine Pasta

The veggies aren’t the only departure from Mom’s Sunday Gravy. There’s a white sauce on this fettuccine recipe, with a hint of lemon that really amplifies all the other fresh flavors. It’s super simple to make, too. The other difference is the meat: I’m a huge fan of the rich flavor that pancetta adds to this dish. I think you’ll love it, too. When I serve it for my family, there is rarely any left over.

Fresh Asparagus and Crispy Pancetta Make this Easy Fettuccine Pasta Recipe even Better

Fresh asparagus and pancetta are the stars of this super easy pasta recipe. You’ll toss fettuccine tossed with crispy pancetta, fresh spring asparagus, and peas. A touch of lemon adds a layer of brightness. Finish everything off with a splash of heavy cream, some grated Parmesan, and of course, fresh herbs, and people will be drooling at the kitchen door.


Now that we’re on the subject: What’s the difference between pancetta, prosciutto, and bacon?

First, what’s pancetta?

For those of you unfamiliar with pancetta, here’s a quick tutorial. Pancetta is pork belly that is salt cured but not smoked. It’s an Italian specialty and can be eaten raw (because it is “cooked” in the salt cure). It is most often sold in a slab that can be diced into smaller pieces.

You probably already know what bacon is, but just in case: 

Bacon also comes from the pork belly, but bacon is smoked, giving it an earthy flavor. Bacon can NOT be served raw. Don’t try it!


Last but not least: what’s prosciutto?

Prosciutto is from the back leg of the pig. The meat there is very buttery. Prosciutto is cured for a year or more. Because of its delicate texture, it is most often served very thinly sliced, almost in paper-thin pieces.

So, that’s the difference between pancetta, prosciutto, and bacon. For this recipe, I use pancetta but feel free to cook up some bacon and substitute that if you don’t have pancetta on hand. 

Yield: serves 4
Fettuccine Pasta Recipe with Pancetta, Asparagus and Peas

Fettuccine Pasta Recipe with Pancetta, Asparagus and Peas

Prep time: 30 MinTotal time: 30 Min
Everybody loves pasta. Impress your guests with this refreshing fettuccine recipe—the cream sauce is so delicious and the fresh veggies really brighten it up.


  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1½ pounds fresh asparagus
  • 2 cups frozen green peas, do not thaw
  • ⅓ cup finely sliced green onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup finely chopped Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the boiling water then add the dried pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente, or slightly firm to the bite. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, then drain the rest. Place the cooked pasta back into the pot you used to cook the noodles. You will use this pot to toss the pasta with the other ingredients.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the chopped pancetta until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta onto a paper towel-lined plate. Remove all but 2 teaspoons of the pancetta fat from the skillet.
  3. Trim the asparagus and cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces. With the skillet on medium, add the asparagus. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the frozen peas, green onions, and garlic. Sauté for about 2 minutes until vegetables are tender but still slightly firm.
  4. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the pot with the cooked fettuccine. Add ¼ cup of the pasta water, along with the Parmesan cheese, cream, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, basil, and half of the cooked pancetta. Toss gently to coat. If you would like a creamier dish, just drizzle in a little more of the reserved pasta water.
  5. Transfer the fettuccini to a serving platter. Top with the remaining pancetta and garnish with the 2 tablespoons grated parmesan and the 2 tablespoons of sliced fresh basil. Enjoy!
Did you make this recipe?
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March 24, 2023 — Mary DiSomma