Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Pasta With Smoked Ham & Peas

Smoked ham is something I've become quite fond of for days when I need to have a quick, tasty and satisfying dish that I can whip up at the drop of a hat. It's hardly the height of haute cuisine, however I love it - mixed with cream, cheese, pasta and frozen peas, it's an absolute delight... I've made this dish with Gramigna, a pasta shape I discovered on a holiday to Bologna that is traditionally served with a sausage sauce, because it gives it a sort of macaroni & cheese quality that I so often crave, however this would be just as delicious with another pasta shape like fusilli, macaroni or even farfalle... Little bow ties are always great for soaking up a creamy sauce and they're cute too!

You might be lucky enough to find Gramigna in an Italian deli or other specialist shop that sells interesting pasta shapes, although I've yet to be so lucky. I stocked up on this unique pasta in Italy, however it's also available online via Mediterranean Direct. For the smoked ham, I tend to find this already chopped up at Waitrose which makes this dish ultra easy for me. If you can't find that kind of thing in your local grocery, thick sliced smoked ham from the deli that you finely chop would work well. Alternatively, you could use regular ham, but I would recommend trying to get the richness of the smokey flavor if at all possible.

Drop of regular olive oil
150g frozen petit pois
300g pasta (gramigna, fusilli, farfalle, etc.)
200ml double cream
180g smoked ham
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a pot of salted water that's big enough to hold everything to the boil and add the peas. Cook until it comes to the boil and then add a drop of olive oil and the pasta. Cook according to packet instructions until the pasta is slightly al dente.

2. Before straining the pasta, reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Strain the pasta & peas and return to the pan on the heat.

3. Add the double cream and smoked ham. Stir to combine, coating all of the pasta and cook while stirring until heated through, taking care not to burn anything.

4. Add the parmesan cheese and season with salt & pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

5. Serve hot on warmed plates or bowls and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. 

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