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Pasta e patate – Pasta with potatoes, a dish from the South of Italy

Before marrying your grandfather and going on our honeymoon in the South of Italy, in the Basilicata region, to visit my in-laws, Grandma told me, I had never heard of pasta and… pasta and potatoes, pasta and fava beans, pasta and beans… We used to eat pasta, soup or broth, but we had never had pasta cooked that way!

This is what my grandmother told me when I asked her where she learnt to cook pasta e patate, pasta cooked with potatoes, one of the most comfortable dishes you can think of on a cold winter day.

Pasta with potatoes

Pasta e patate is a traditional dish, belonging to the inventive food tradition of Southern Italy.

My grandma Marcella learnt to cook pasta with potatoes from my Aunt Valeria, my granddad’s sister, and from that day many many years ago she developed her own recipe, revised according to our ingredients, to her taste and cooking style.

For example, instead of caciocavallo, a hard and sharp flavoured pear-shaped cheese from the South of Italy, we use grated Parmigiano Reggiano and also a piece of its leftover crust, cut into cubes. Once you boil it for a while, it becomes soft and chewy, giving also an intense flavour to the stock.

From an unknown recipe, it became the rewarding and cosy dish of cold days. On these snowy days, Grandma comes often to our house at lunchtime with a wooden tray with all the ingredients, already measured and divided into small bowls, and while we set the table she cooks us pasta with potatoes in a small pot on low flame: this is her secret in the kitchen, the lowest flame and a lot of patience.

As befits the traditional Italian peasant cooking, few ingredients are used in an inventive way to produce a rich taste and a creamy texture. 

A hint of freshly ground black pepper or a pinch of crushed red hot chilly pepper will add the right amount of heat to warm you up, from inside out.

Pasta with potatoes


[First Posted February 2012. Updated January 2024]

Pasta and potatoes are a typical cucina povera association. These two affordable ingredients were paired for the first time in Naples around the XVII century to give birth to pasta e patate, a recipe loved by peasants who could fill their bellies with a hearty, energetic dish, perfect for nourishing and satiating body and soul after heavy working days.

Now pasta e patate is spread all over Italy, where different versions coexist. It is highly recommended to hold the bowl of pasta e patate in your hands on the coldest days and to inhale the cosy scent with closed eyes before you eat it: a stream of family memories will pass through your eyes. This is the power of simple, honest food.

Pasta e patate, Pasta with Potatoes

As befits the traditional Italian peasant cooking, with pasta and potatoes few ingredients are used in an inventive way to produce a rich taste and a creamy texture. 
3.81 from 21 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course First course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 generous servings


  • ½ onion, red or golden, finely minced
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • A pinch of chilli pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 500 ml hot water, lightly salted
  • 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, about 2 inches by 3/4 inch/6x2cm
  • 150 grams cavatelli, pasta mista, ditali, or other short dry pasta
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
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  • Pour the olive oil into a medium pot over low heat. Add the finely minced onion, a pinch of chili pepper and a generous pinch of salt, then cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, stir, and cook until caramelized, about one minute. It will give a pinkish and inviting colour to your pasta and potatoes.
  • Add the diced potatoes, stir, and cook on low heat for about five minutes, taking care not to brown the potatoes.
  • Pour in 1⅔ cups/400 ml hot water (it should be enough to cover the potatoes), add the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, and cook on a medium flame for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you can easily mash the potatoes with a wooden spoon against the edges of the pot.
  • Pour in the remaining hot water, and the pasta, and stir thoroughly. Simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.
  • When the pasta is cooked through, and the soup is thick, remove the pot from the heat, add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and stir energetically. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.
  • Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, drizzle each serving with some olive oil, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, and serve. The Parmigiano-Reggiano rind can be cut into smaller pieces and added to the bowls.
  • Any leftover soup can be refrigerated for up to two days. Reheat gently over low heat, adding a bit of water as necessary to thin.
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You can find a similar version for pasta e patate in our latest cookbook, Cucina Povera.

Pasta with potatoes


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This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. Ooh, love the sound of this dish! and there’s nothing like those stories passed on by family elders 🙂

  2. This is interesting because we, Hungarians, have a traditional pasta & potato meal! 🙂 I cooked it last week! We cook the potato, then saute onion in a pan. We add the half mashed potato, season with salt, pepper and paprika. We also add some pasta water to it to make it a bit creamier then we combine this with the cooked pasta. It is true a winter comfort meal!

  3. Gulia, I must confess my love for your blog 🙂 Thank you for sharing all these lovely stories and mouth-watering recipes. You’re such an inspiration 🙂

  4. I have never thought of putting pasta and potatoes together – I do make chickpeas and potatoes very often. I am anxious to try your recipe, it looks delicious.

  5. Juls, what an interesting idea to pair pasta with potatoes. Both are such comfort foods on their own, but together? Yum. The dish looks quite creamy and almost ‘saucy’, really lovely. I really appreciate seeing rustic, simple ingredients (and not necessarily too many of them) come together to create an elegant and comforting dish. Thanks for sharing this family gem, my friend!

  6. Feeling a bit under the weather, this sounds like it will be perfect for today. thank you.

  7. Hi Giulia, I tried to get to the recipe but unfortunately the link is defective, it takes me to other Tamara’s recipes. I am sure it is a great recipe but I would like to know the ingredients! Baci

  8. My mother made this dish, yummy. Everything she made was incredible, but this stands out

  9. 4 stars
    This is a recipe that my grandmother (a New York native, second generation from Ischia) would make us growing up. It’s so simple and fulling and delicious. It brings back such memories. I made a big pot of it tonight for my sister.

    We call it Pasta Padon. I always just assumed that Padon meant potato, but I can’t find anything anywhere to indicate that. My gut (which is full at the moment) tells me that this may mean something like ‘padding’. lol. Thank you for posting the recipe. IT’s great to see how others make it.

  10. 5 stars
    I am thrilled that I’ve finally found Juls’ and Tommaso’s blog. I feel like I’ve been looking for these recipes my whole cooking life! I’ve wanted to make pasta and potatoes for a couple of years, since I first heard of the dish, but haven’t found a recipe that looked promising. I read once that there aren’t many of these recipes on the American circuit because American portions are so large, a dish with two major starches is unfathomable. I used Juls’ recipe here as a side dish with a summer salad main course (I couldn’t wait till winter to try it), and I was blown away by how much flavor you can get out of so few ingredients in such small quantities if you pay attention to your elders and SLOW COOK EVERYTHING. Food already has everything it needs for us, substance and flavor together. We just have to trust it in its own, patient time to release all of its goodness. So don’t rush this. And add tomatoes if you want. Add rosemary if it’s right. This dish is adaptable because it’s so simple, and that’s the kind of purity we all want in our lives and the lives of those we feed. Thank you, Juls.

    1. Rachel, your comment made my day. The way you used this recipes is just perfect. Moderation is the answer, and with a conscious way of eating even a pasta e patate, with two starches together, can belong to a balanced meal. The way you understood the recipe, and the use of ingredients… I really want to thank you, because this is the reason I blog and share my recipes! thank you, Rachel!

  11. 5 stars
    Giulia, I always save my Parmesan rinds and add them to soups and stocks, but I never thought of eating them before. I used to throw them away after boiling! What a revelation, thank you!

  12. Working on my own blog today (a quick recipe featuring leftover chicken and pasta–a very unItalian dish!!!), I needed some info about a pasta with potatoes dish. I googled it and loved that your blog came up! I’ve linked from my blog to yours so my readers can read your sweet story and maybe make some pasta and potatoes, too. I hope that’s ok? Thanks, Juls! Happy Monday. I hope this finds you and all you love well. Alyce.

  13. 5 stars
    Bolivia has a national dish, one of many that is called Aji de fideo, the internet has the recipe in multiple sites, has potatoes, peas , beef,carrots in a sauce made of aji panca, tomatoes, onions, the pasta is added at the end.
    It originated as the rich meal bolivian Bolivian miners eat at midday.

  14. 5 stars
    We bolivians have the most delicious food and one dish is pasta ,potatoes, beef ,in a seasoned sauce .
    Called Aji de Fideo.

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